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A djtiia?tt- General  of  New  Jersey ;    President  of  the  New  Jersey 

Society  of  the  Ciitcinnati  ;  Presidetit  of  the  Trenton 

Battle  Monument  Association ;  President 

of  the  New  Jersey  Historical 

Society^  etc. 




In  my  youth  I  spent  many  pleasant  hours  in  hstening  to 
the  residents  of  Trenton  as  they  related  the  brave  deeds  of 
their  fathers  in  the  old  war,  and  told  the  story  of  the  trials 
and  sufferings  of  the  heroic  men  and  women  of  the  Revolu- 
tionary period,  which  they  had  heard  directly  from  the  lips 
of  those  who  had  taken  a  part  in  the  struggle  for  independ- 
ence. In  my  early  manhood  I  began  to  take  notes  from  the 
conversations  of  my  mother  and  her  aged  friends,  as  they 
described  the  personal  appearance  and  peculiarities  of  the 
rich  merchant  who  had  lived  here  in  1776  and  for  forty-five 
years  thereafter ;  of  the  country  miller  who  had  entered  the 
village  as  an  American  spy ;  of  the  beloved  physician  who 
had  commanded  the  local  military  force  ;  of  her  grandfather 
who  had  been  one  of  the  guides  of  the  American  army  to 
the  surprise  at  Trenton.  .  After  some  years  had  elapsed  I 
published  a  little  pamphlet  for  private  distribution,  entitled 
"Trenton,  One  Hundred  Years  Ago,"  which  gave  a  brief 
description  of  the  citizens  and  their  homes  in  the  village  as 
it  appeared  in  1776  and  1777.  As  I  continued  to  study  the 
past  of  this  historic  town,  and  found  myself  surrounded  in 
official  life  by  the  manuscript  records  of  those  brave  soldiers 
who  fought  for  liberty  in  the  hour  that  tried  men's  souls,  I 
compiled  all  the  authentic  military  rolls  which  I  could  obtain, 
and  published  my  "  Official  Register  of  the  Oiificers  and  Men 
of  New  Jersey  in  the  Revolutionary  War."  In  the  prepara- 
tion of  this  work  I  became  possessed  of  a  large  amount  of 


new  facts  and  unpublished  documents  relating  to  the  battles 
of  Trenton,  Princeton,  and  Monmouth.  In  1877  I  crossed 
the  ocean  to  examine  the  official  records  at  Cassel,  Germany, 
and  in  1 892  I  caused  a  most  exhaustive  search  to  be  made  in 
the  State  Archives  at  Marburg,  Germany,  by  competent 
men,  and  secured  copies  of  all  documents  filed  there  (some 
eleven  hundred  pages  of  manuscript,  certified  under  seal  as 
correct)  which  bear  directly  on  the  conduct  of  the  Hessian 
force  in  New  Jersey.  This  new  material  has  never  before 
been  thoroughly  examined  by  an  American.  Every  history, 
every  letter,  every  diary,  every  document  that  came  to  my 
notice  has  been  carefully  studied  for  facts  which  bear  in  any 
way  on  this  important  crisis  in  our  country's  history.  Many 
of  these  documents  are  published  in  full  in  this  volume. 
In  the  light  of  all  the  new  material  to  which  I  have  referred 
this  work  has  been  prepared,  and  I  trust  it  will  be  found  a 
complet'e  history  of  the  wonderful  winter  campaign  of  1776 
and  1777  in  New  Jersey. 

For  facts,  advice,  or  careful  revision  I  acknowledge  myself 
greatly  indebted  to  General  T.  F.  Rodenbough,  U.  S.  Army ; 
Colonel  Asa  Bird  Gardiner,  U.  S.  Army ;  Professor  Henry  P. 
Johnston  of  the  College  of  the  City  of  New  York ;  Rev.  Dr. 
Henry  C.  Cameron  of  Princeton  University ;  General  Henry 
B.  Carrington,  U.  S.  Army ;  Dr.  Austin  Scott,  president  of 
Rutgers  College ;  the  late  Frederick  D.  Stone,  librarian  of 
the  Pennsylvania  Historical  Society  ;  William  Nelson,  cor- 
responding secretary  of  the  New  Jersey  Historical  Society  ; 
Dr.  William  H.  Egle,  librarian  of  the  State  Library  of  Penn- 
sylvania ;  Hon.  John  B.  Linn  of  Bellefonte,  Pennsylvania ; 
General  William  W.  H.  Davis  of  Doylestown,  Pennsylvania ; 
Colonel  E.  M.  Woodward  of  Ellisdale,  Monmouth  County, 
New  Jersey ;  Joseph  H.  West  of  Hamilton  Square,  Mercer 


County,  New  Jersey  ;  Hon.  Garret  D.  W.  Vroom,  Captain 
Charles  B.  Dahlgren,  Hon.  William  S.  Yard,  all  of  Trenton  ; 
Friederich  Hirschfeld  of  Hamburg,  Germany  ;  the  late  Hon. 
Edmund  D.  Halsey  of  Dover,  New  Jersey  ;  the  late  Dr. 
Friederich  Kapp  of  Berlin,  Germany  ;  the  late  Dr.  Benson  J. 
Lossing  and  the  late  Dr.  George  H.  Moore,  and  to  the  men 
living  and  dead  whose  books  appear  in  the  list  at  the  close 
of  this  volume,  as  authorities  cited  in  the  work. 

W.  S.  S. 

Trenton,  New  Jersey,  December  26,  1897. 


PART   I. 


The  Battles  of  Princeton  and  Trenton'      ...  i 


1.  American  Army  at  beginning  of  Campaign,  1776-1777  308 

2.  Washington's  Orders       .        .  .        .        310 

3.  Proclamation  of  the  Howes  ....     314 

4.  Hessian  Field  Officers            .        .                         .  316 

5.  General  Howe  to  Colonel  von  Donop  .    316 

6.  Colonel  von  Donop  to  Colonel  Rall                 .  .        318 

7.  Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Leslie                 .  318 

8.  Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Grant      .  .        .        320 

9.  Extract  from  a  Letter  to  a  Gentleman  in  Connecticut    321 

10.  Colonel  Joseph  Reed  to  General  Washington  .  322 

11.  Colonel  Cadwalader  to  Council  of  Safety,  1776  .        .        323 

12.  Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop     .                .  323 

13.  Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Grant     .        .  324 

14.  Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop            .  326 

15.  General  Washington  to  Major-General  Lee  .  326 

16.  General  Howe  to  Lord  Germain  327 

17.  Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop  .        .        329 

18.  General  Grant  to  Colonel  von  Donop         .        .  .     329 
ig.  Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Grant      .        .  331 

20.  Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop            .  .     331 

21.  Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop  .        .        332 

22.  Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Gr.ant                 .  333 

23.  General  Grant  to  Colonel  Rall         .  .  334 

24.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Sterling  to  Colonel  von  Donop  335 

25.  Memoranda  ...  .  336 

26.  Captain  Loray  to  Colonel  Rall                              .  339 

27.  General  Leslie  to  Colonel  Rall                       .  .        .        339 

28.  Colonel  Reed  to  General  Washington                 .  339 

29.  General  Washington  to  Colonel  Reed  .        342 

30.  Quartermaster  Gamble's  Circulars                         .  .    343 

31.  Colonel  John  Cadwalader's  Division  344 

32.  Brigadier-General  James  Ewing's  Division  .  346 


33.  General  Officers  of  the  American  Revolution              .  347 

34.  Field  Officers  of  Troops  under  Washington's  Immediate 

Command  351 

35.  John  Honeyman         .                                       ...  358 

36.  General  Mercer  to  Colonel  Durkee                     .  359 

37.  From  Diary  of  an  Officer  on  Washington's  Staff  360 

38.  Colonel  Cadwalader  to  .        .  364 

39-   Colonel  Cadwalader  to  .  365 

40.  Colonel  Clement  Kiddle  to  .                                .  365 

41.  Tench  Tilghman  to  James  Tilghman,  Esq.         .                 .  366 

42.  Extract  of  Letter  from  an  Officer  of  Distinction  .  367 

43.  From  the  "Pennsylvania  Evening  Post"                   .  369 

44.  Colonel  Clement  Biddle  to  Committee  of  Safety             .  369 

45.  Lieutenant  Patrick   Duffy  to   Colonel  Thomas  Procter  370 

46.  Colonel  Knox  to  his  Wife     .                                                  .  371 

47.  Captain  Thomas  Forrest  to  Colonel  Thomas  Procter  372 

48.  Governor  Tryon  to  Lord  Germain              .        .                .  373 

49.  Memorandum  in  General  Robert  Anderson's  Letter  Book  373 

50.  Proclamation          .        .                                 374 

51.  Captain  William  Hull,  Seventh  Connecticut  Regiment, 

TO  Andrew  Adams     ...                                         .        .  375 

52.  Colonel  John  Haslet  to  C^sar  Rodney            .  376 

53.  Commissioned  Officers  of  Rall's  Brigade,  December,  1776  378 

54.  General  Mercer  to  Colonel  Durkee 379 

55.  Hessian  Outposts  of  Trenton                                         .        .  379 

56.  Hessians  who  escaped  Capture                 .                 ...  383 

57.  Return  of  Prisoners  taken  at  Trenton             .        .  386 

58.  Hessian  Prisoners  of  War                                  .  386 

59.  Roster  of  Officers  of  Rall's  Brigade        .  388 

60.  Lord  Stirling  to  Governor  Livingston         .        .  394 

61.  Proclamation  by  the  Pennsylvania  Council  of  Safety  395 

62.  Count  de  Schaumburg  to  Baron  Hohendorf       .        .  396 

63.  Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Knyphausen                   .  398 

64.  General  Grant  to  Colonel  von  Donop         .  400 

65.  General  von  Heister  to  the  Prince  of  Hesse  401 

66.  Earl  of  Suffolk  to  General  von  Heister                    .  402 

67.  Prince  of  Hesse  to  Lieutenant-General  von  Knyphausen  403 

68.  Friedrich  L.  I.  Hessen  to  General  von  Knyphausen        .  404 

69.  Return  Casualties  Rall's  Brigade               .        .        .  408 

70.  Proceedings  of  Hessian  Court-Martial         .        .  409 

71.  Finding  of  Hessian  Court-Martial  411 

72.  Report  of  Hessian  War  Commission        .                .        .  419 

73.  Colonel  Cadwalader  to  General  Washington        .  423 

74.  General  Leslie  to  Colonel  von  Donop         ....  424 

75.  General  Leslie  to  Colonel  von  Donop      .        .                 .  424 

76.  General  Grant  to  Colonel  von  Donop         .        .                .  425 

77.  General  Grant  to  Colonel  von  Donop             .        .        .  425 

78.  Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Grant         .        .  426 

79.  General  Washington  to  Colonel  Cadwalader       .        .  427 


80.  General  Washington  to  the  Congress  .  .  429 

8t.  British  P'grces  in  New  Jersey      .  ...  430 

83.  General  Mifflin's  Orders 

83.  General  Cadwalader  to  General  Washington 

84.  General  Washington  to  the  Congress  . 

85.  General  Knox  to  his  Wife 

86.  Colonel  Reed  to  General  Putnam  . 

87.  General  Putnam  to  .... 

88.  From  the  Journal  of  Captain  Thomas  Rodney 

89.  Private  Lardner  to  Captain  Smith 
go.  Congressional  News 

91.  Doctor  Potts  to  Owen  Piddle 

92.  General  Cadwalader  to  Council  of  Safety 

93.  Letter  from  an  Officer  of  Distinction     ....        446 

94.  Colonel  Lambert  Cadwalader  to  Mrs.  Samuel  Meredith    448 

95.  General  Knox  to  his  Wife 

96.  Lord  Stirling  to 8 ,  1777  . 

97.  American  Officers  killed  at  Princeton 

98.  British  Officers  killed  at  Princeton 

99.  British  Casualties  at  Princeton    . 
100.  General  Howe's  Congratulations 
Id.  Note  on  General  Mercer  . 

102.  Washington's  Report  on  Princeton 

103.  General  Washington  to  General  Putnam 

104.  Comments  on  the  Battle  of  Princeton     . 

105.  Letter  from  the  American  Army    . 

106.  Major  Samuel  Meredith  to  .        .        .  468 

107.  Letter  from  the  British  Army        .  .  469 

108.  From  the  "New  York  Gazette  and  Weekly  Mercury"       471 

109.  General  Greene  to .        .  .        .  472 

no.  From  the  "Freeman's  Journal"  .        .  473 

III.  From  the  "Pennsylvania  Evening  Post"  .  474 

n2.  From  the  "Connecticut  Journal"  .        .        .        475 

113.  Proclamation.        .        .  .        .  ....    476 

114.  From  George  Inman's  Narrative  of  the  American  Revo- 

lution    ...    477 

115.  Sergeant  Joseph  White's  Narration  .        .  .        .        478 

116.  Extract  from  the  Journal  of  Lieutenant  Samuel  Shaw 

OF  THE  Artillery       ...  .  ...    480 

117.  From  Almon's  Parliamentary  Register      .  482 

118.  General  Howe  to  Lord  Germain            ....  482 

119.  Lord  Germain  to  H.  M.  Peace  Commissioners  .  483 

120.  Translation  of  a  Hessian  Diary     .        .                .        .  483 

121.  From  an  English  Book  of  Orders  found  at  Trenton  484 

122.  Contemporaneous  Documents            .                       .  .    485 

Books  examined  and  Authorities  used  in  the  preparation  of 

THIS  Work .        .  .        486 

Index  .  .        .  '      .  .  .  .  493 









George  Washington  {photogravure) Frontispiece 

From  the  painting  by  Charles  Wilson  Peale,  in  the  museum  of  Princeton 


Lord  Cornwallts's  Path 3 

On  Old  Closter  Dock  Road  (now  Alpine,  Bergen  County,  N.  J.),  as  it  ap- 
peared in  September,  1S97. 

Adjutant-General  Joseph  Reed,  Staff  of  the  Commander-in- 
Chief    7 

Brigadier-General  Thomas  Mifflin,  Continental  Army    .  9 
General  Sir  William  Howe,  British  Commander-in-Chief       .  1 1 
William  Livingston,  First  Governor  of  New  Jersey           .     .  13 
Captain  Alexander  Hamilton,  New   York   Provincial   Com- 
pany of  Artillery     ...          .     .          ...          16 

Residence  of   Quartermaster   Robert    Stockton,   Prince- 
ton, N.  J 17 

■'Tusculum,"  the  residence  of  Rev.  Dr.  John  Witherspoon  .          ,  19 

Lieutenant-Gexeral  Charles  Cornwallis,  British  Army       .  21 
Admiral  Richard  Howe,  British  Navy             .          .                   -23 

Protection  Paper  signed  by  Colonel  Rail  in  Trenton   ....     24 
From  the  original  in  possession  of  the  author. 

Washington's  Headquarters  (present  appearance)     .     .  29 

At  Trenton  Landing  on  the  Pennsylvania  shore  of  the  river.     Called  by 
him  "  Mr.  Berkeley's  summer  seat." 

Colonel  Knox's  Headquarters  (from  a  photograph  in  1894)  .     31 
Owned  in  1776  by  Dr.  Chapman.     Situated  near  Jericho  Hill,  about  a  mile 
from  Brownsburg,  Bucks  Co.,  Fa. 

Washington's  Headquarters,  called  the  "  Keith  House  "    •    .    33 

From  a  photograph. 

Major-General  Israel  Putnam,  Continental  Army   .     .  35 

Hessian  Grenadier        41 

Parole  of  Rev.  Jonathan  Odell,  of  Burlington,  N.  J.   .  43 

From  the  original  in  possession  of  the  author. 

Major-General  James  Grant,  British  Army       ...  49 


Major-General  Charles  Lee,  Continental  Arnay 55 

iMajor-Gexeral  John  Sullivan,  Continental  Army  ...  60 

Brig.vdier-General  Alexander  Leslie,  British  Army        .     .  71 

George  Washixgtox  .....  •         ■  79 

After  the  TnuiibuH  portrait  in  Vale  College. 
Colonel  Johx  Cadwalader,  Philadelphia  Associators     .          .81 
Ferry-House  of  Patrick  Colvin  82 

Still  standing  at  Trenton  Ferry  on  ttie  Pennsylvania  side  of  the  Delaware 

Brigadier-General  Philemon  Dickinson,  New  Jersey  Militia  83 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Samuel  B.  Webb 84 

Plan  of  the  Operations  of  General  Washington  against 

THE  King's  Troops  in  New  Jersey facing  84 

Rall's  Headquarters 92 

The  house  of  Stacy  Potts,  and  the  residences  of  Miss  Rebecca  Coxe  and 
Thomas  Barnes. 

■Ky   Map  of  Trenton,  New  Jersey,  in   1776.     (Prepared  by  Wil- 
liam S.  Yard)       .  ....  ...  .     .     93 

Post-Office,  on  the  corner  of  Second  and  King  streets     ...     94 
City  Tavern,  on  the  corner  of  Second  and  King  streets         .         95 

The  "  Old  Barracks  "  (present  appearance) 97 

Fox  Chase  Tavern  .    .  loi 

Dr.  William  Bryant.  .  .     .  in 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Abraham  Hunt,  First  Regiment  Hunter- 
don County  Militia      ....  .  .121 

Residence  of  Abraham  Hunt  .    .    .    .123 

Lieutenant  Piel's  Map  .         .        facing  124 

Lieutenant  Wiederhold's  Map        .  .   facing  126 

Lieutenant  Fischer's  Map .    facing  128 

Major-General  Horatio  Gates,  Continental  Army  130 

Monument  at  Taylorsville,  Pa.  .         .  ...  131 

Near  the  spot  where  Washington  crossed  the  Delaware.     Erected  by  the 
Bucks  County  Historical  Society,  October  15,  1895. 

Colonel  John  Glover .  .    .  132 

From  his  portrait  in  The  Surrender  of  Burgoyne  by  John  Trumbull. 
John  Russell,  private  in  Colonel  Glover's  regiment    .     .     .  133 

From  the  bronze  statute  at  the  doorway  of  the  Trenton  Battle  Monument 
presented  by  the  Commonwealth  of  Massachusetts. 

Washington  crossing  the  Delaware 135 

After  the  painting  by  F.  Leutze  in  the  New  York  Metropolitan  Museum. 


"The  Continental  Akmv  crossing  the  Delaware"  .  136 

Bronze  tablet  on  the  Trenton  Battle  Monument  presented  by  the  Com- 
monwealth of  Pennsylvania. 

House  at  "  Washington's  Crossing  "        .  .    .         .    .  137 

Still  standing  on  the  New  Jersey  side. 

Amos  Scudder  ....         .139 

One  of  the  guides  of  Washington's  army  down  the  River  road  to  the  bat- 
tle of  Trenton,  December  26,  1776. 

Gun   carried   by  Amos   Scudder  when   guiding.  Washing- 
ton's Army  to  the  Surprise  at  Trenton     ...         .    .  140 
Monument  at  Washington's  Crossing,  New  Jersey  .  141 

Erected  by  the  New  Jersey  Society  of  tlie  Cincinnati,  October  15,  1895. 

Bear  Tavern  (still  standing)  at  Jacob's  Creek,  Mercer  County  .  142 

Major-General  Nathanael  Greene,  Continental  Army     .  .  143 

Richard  Howell's  Cooper-Shop                      .         ...  146 

The  Hessian  picket  post  on  the  Pennington  road. 

Alexander  Calhoun's  House    .  148 

The  quarters  of  Captain  von  Altenbockum's  company. 
Blair  McClenachan,  private  in  Philadelphia  Troop  of  Light 

Horse  ...  .  ...  149 

From  the  bronze  statue  at  the  doorway  of  the  Trenton  Battle  Monument 
presented  by  the  City  Troop  of  Philadelphia. 
Captain  Samuel  Morris,  Philadelphia  Troop  of  Light  Horse      150 
"The  Hermitage,"  residence  of  General  Philemon  Dickinson    .  151 

The  yager  picket  post  on  the  River  road. 
The  -Barracks  (as  they  appeared  at  the  time  of  the  battle  at 

Trenton) i53 

Headquarters  Guard-House  (Lieutenant  Sternickel  in  com- 
mand on  Christmas  night)  .     .  ...  154 
Still  standing  on  the  southeast  corner  of  Warren  and  Perry  streets,  Tren- 

Place    where    the    Artillery    opened    on  the    Hessian 

Troops  (as  it  appeared  in  Revolutionary  days)  .  ...  155 

Trenton  Battle  Monument  .                           .  .                  •       iS7 

General  Washington                  .              .  160 

From  the  bronze  statue  on  the  top  of  the  Trenton  Battle  Monument  pre- 
sented by  the  State  of  New  York. 

High  Ground  where  Washington   remained  during  the 
Battle       .    .  .         .         ...         .         .    .         .    .       161 

"Opening  of  the  Fight"  ...  ...  163 

From  the  bronze  tablet  on  the  Trenton  Battle  Monument  presented  by  the 
State  of  New  York. 


Captain  William   Washington,    Third   Virginia    Continental 

Regiment    .  .     .  .  164 

Lieutenant  James  Monroe,  Third  Virginia  Continental  Regi- 
ment .     .  .     .  .        165 

Captain  Thomas  Forrest,   Pennsylvania   State   Artillery  Bat- 
talion     .  ...  167 

General  John  Stark  .     .  .     .  169 

From  the  statue  in  the  Capitol  at  Washington, 
iMr.  Davies'  House,  on  Second  street       ...  .     .        171 

Methodist  Church,  on  corner  of  Queen  and  Fourth  streets    .     .173 
Presbyterian  Church,  on  Second  street     .  ...         .     .  175 

Friends'  Meeting  House,  on  Third  street  .         .  .  181 

"Surrender  of  the  Hessians"     .         .  ...  183 

From  the  bronze  tablet  on  the  Trenton  Battle  Monument  presented  by  the 
State  of  Connecticut. 

Major  James  Wilkinson,  acting  as   aide-de-camp    to    General 

St.  Clair .  .  ,     .   185 

Brigadier-General  Lord  Stirling,  Continental  Army  .  186 

Generals  Washington  and  Greene  calling  on   Colonel 
Rall  at  the  House  of  Stacy  Potts     .         .    .  191 

From  the  painting  by  George  W.  Flagg.     The  likeness  of  Rail  is  from  a 
sketch  made  by  Colonel  John  Trumbull. 

Colonel  Johann  Gottlieb  Rall       197 

From  painting  by  George  W.  Flagg. 

The  von  Lossberg  Regimental  Flag  .         203 

Colonel  Henry  Knox,  Continental  Artillery    ...  .  205 

Flag  of  the  Philadelphia  Troop  of  Light  Horse  .  .  .  209 
Signatures  of  Hessian  Officers  on  the  Parole  .  .212 
The  House  of  Major  John  Barnes,  the  loyalist  247 

The  headquarters  of  General  Washington,  December  30,  31,  and  January  i. 
"Morven,"  the  residence  of  the  Hon.  Richard  Stockton  .  249 

Facsimile   of  Washington's    Call   to  Arms,  December   31, 

1776 .  ....  252 

Friends'  Meeting  House  at  Crosswicks  .  .         .  255 

Robert  Morris    .         .  257 

Colonel  Edward  Hand,  of  the  Pennsylvania  Rifle  Regiment  .  259 
Captain  Henry'  Miller,  of  the  Pennsylvania  Rifle  Regiment  .  260 
General   Washington   at  the    Bridge   over  the  Assun- 

PINK  Creek        .  .         .         262 

After  the  painting  by  Colonel  John  Trumbull. 


The  Beakes  House  (still  standing)  ....  .    .  267 

The  Douglass  House .  270 

General  St.  Clair's  headquarters,  where  General  Washington  held  a  council 
of  war,  January  2,  1777. 

Tavern  kept  by  Jonathan  Richmond 271 

General  Washington's  headquarters,  January  2,  1777. 
Brigadier-General  Arthur  St.  Clair,  Continental  Army .     .  272 
Chair  used  by  General  Washingto_n  at  the  Council  of 
War  held  in  the  Douglass  House,  Trenton,  January  2, 

1777.     Now  in  the  Battle  Monument 273 

The    Quaker    Meeting   House   at   Stony   Brook   on  the 
Pri.ncetox  Battlefield  .  276 

The  building  is  still  standing.  It  was  used  as  a  hospital  after  the  battle, 
and  many  of  the  dead  were  interred  in  the  graveyard  adjoining. 

Interior  of  the  Quaker  Meeting  House  at  Stony  Brook  277 

Bridge  over  Stony  Brook 278 

Map  of  the  "  Lower  Road  to  Princeton  "  ...  279 

Brigadier-General  Hugh  Mercer,  Continental  Army  .  .281 
Wounding  of  General  Mercer  at  Battle  of  Princeton  283 
Sword  of  General  Hugh  Mercer  .  .         .  284 

Given  on  the  battlefield  to  Colonel  Jacob  Morgan,  first  battalion,  Philadel- 
phia Associators,  and  by  him  to  the  St.  Andrew's  Society  of  Philadelphia.  It 
is  now  in  the  rooms  of  the  Pennsylvania  Historical  Society  in  Philadelphia. 

The  House  of  Thomas  Olden       .    .  ...  .  287 

Now  the  lodge  of  Drumthwacket,  the  residence  of  M.  Taylor  Pyne,  a  trustee 
of  the  Princeton  University. 

Map  of  the  Battlefield  of  Princeton  ...         ...       288 

Prepared  from  a  map  made  by  the  late  Professor  Albert  B.  Dod  for  the 
library  of  the  college. 
Nassau  Hall,  as  it  appeared  at  the  time  of  the  battle  of  Prince- 
ton .  ...  289 

Ensign  Anthony  Morris,  Philadelphia  Battalion  of  Associators  291 
Stone  at  the   Grave  of    Captain    Leslie;,    of    the    British 

Army ' 293 

House  in  which  General  Mercer  died 294 

Room  in  which  General  Mercer  died         .    .  ...  295 

The  stains  made  by  his  blood  are  to  be  seen  on  the  left  of  the  picture. 

Dr.  Benjamin  Rush     ....  299 

John   Van   Doren's   House    (present    appearance),    Somerset 

Court  House .     .  •     ■  •     •  3°! 

Where  General  Washington  spent  the  night  of  January  3,  1777. 



Nowhere  in  the  annals  of  warfare  can  be  found  a  coun- 
terpart of  the  winter  campaign  of  Washington  and  his  army 
in  I  JJ^i-JJ  —  that  army  which  left  the  vicinity  of  New  York 
a  ragged,  starved,  defeated,  demoralized  band,  which  passed 
through  the  Jerseys  and  over  the  river,  then  dashed  upon 
the  Hessian  advance,  punished  the  flank  of  the  British  line, 
doubled  on  its  own  bloody  tracks  through  the  village  of 
Princeton,  and  at  last  marched  into  quarters  an  army  of  vic- 
tors. In  just  one  month  and  a  half  the  patriot  troops  of 
America  had  been  forced  to  surrender  the  forts  of  the  Hud- 
son and  beat  an  inglorious  retreat ;  then  they  struck  such 
blows  at  the  royal  army  that  it  was  thought  prudent  to  allow 
them  to  reorganize,  undisturbed,  among  the  mountains  of 
Morris  County. 

On  the  27th  day  of  August,  1776,  the  disastrous  battle  of 
Long  Island  was  fought.  At  that  time  the  American  army 
had  never  met  the  enemy  in  the  open,  and  it  was  with  great 
solicitude  that  General  Washington  contemplated  a  conflict 
between  his  small  unskilled  force  and  the  trained  troops  of 
England  and  Hesse.  The  battle  was  also  unequal  in  that 
the  foreign  soldiery  outnumbered  our  own  fully  one  half. 
And  although  the  patriots  fought  bravely,  —  the  Continental 
battalions  of  Pennsylvania,  Maryland  and  Delaware,  with 
the  militia  levies  of  New  York  and  ISTew  Jersey,  inflicting 


great  damage  on  the  enemy,  —  they  were  overwhelmed  and 
thoroughly  routed.  About  600  men  were  killed  and  over 
1000  taken  prisoners,  among  whom  were  the  general  officers 
Sullivan,  Woodhull  and  Lord  Stirling. 

The  effect  of  this  disaster  upon  the  commander-in-chief 
and  his  troops  was  absolutely  distressing.  Almost  in  despair 
they  abandoned  the  soil  they  had  defended  so  bravely,  and 
during  the  night  of  August  29,  and  in  the  fog  of  the  early 
morning  of  the  following  day,  they  quietly  passed  over  the 
East  River  into  New  York. 

In  October  the  affairs  at  Harlem  Heights  and  White 
Plains  took  place,  but  without  any  decided  results.  On 
November  16,  after  a  severe  assault  and  a  loss  to  the  British 
army  of  about  800  men  slain,  Fort  Washington,  with  its  gar- 
rison of  2000  soldiers  of  the  Continental  line  and  600  of  the 
militia,  was  surrendered  to  General  Howe.  This  garrison 
marched  out  between  the  Hessian  regiments  of  Rail  and 
von  Lossberg  and  laid  down  its  arms.  Colonel  Rail  was 
mentioned  in  orders  for  his  gallantry  on  this  occasion. 

Not  a  week  later  General  Greene  was  compelled  to  aban- 
don Fort  Lee,  on  the  west  bank  of  the  Hudson  River,  when 
he  found  that  Lieutenant-General  Cornwallis,  who  had 
landed  with  a  force  of  some  4000  men  at  old  Closter  Dock 
in  the  early  morning  of  November  20,  and  ascended  the 
steep  and  rocky  roadway  to  the  top  of  the  ridge  of  the  Pali- 
sades, was  rapidly  gaining  a  position  which  would  soon  make 
the  fort  utterly  untenable.  In  making  a  hasty  retreat  to  the 
main  army  at  Hackensack,  New  Jersey,  General  Greene's 
division  had  time  to  carry  only  their  firearms  and  ammu- 
nition. The  want  of  wagons  and  the  necessity  for  a  rapid 
withdrawal  of  the  garrison  compelled  them  to  abandon  a 
large  quantity  of  commissary  stores,  camp  equipage  and 
baggage,  thirty  mounted  guns  and  two  brass  mortars. 

The  American  army  had  lost  in  prisoners  329  officers  and 
4101  enhsted  men,  in  all  4430  soldiers,  during  the  past 
twelve  weeks. 

The  remnant  of  the  army  was  posted  on  the  west  bank 


of  the  Hackensack  River,  under  the  immediate  command  of 
General  Washington,  who  occupied  the  house  of  Peter 
Zabriskie  in  the  village  of  Hackensack.  Official  reports 
made  at  that  time  show  scarcely  4000  men  fit  for  duty,  and 
even  this  force  was  being  constantly  diminished.  The  divi- 
sion of  troops  under  General  Greene  was  entirely  without 
tents,   and  in  great  need  of  shoes,  stockings  and  blankets. 

COUNT\',    NEW   jersey),    AS    IT    APPEARED    SEPTEMBER,    lSu7 

The  chilling  frosts  and  cold  winds  which  swept  down  the 
Highland  range  through  the  valley  of  the  Hackensack 
already  betokened  the  early  approach  of  winter.  Under  the 
circumstances  it  did  not  appear  possible  for  General  Wash- 
ington to  fortify  himself  there  and  give  battle.  A  sufficient 
quantity  of  shovels  and  axes  could  not  be  procured  for  the 
purpose  of  intrenching  the  position.  The  river  was  fordable 
in  many  places,  and  not  all  the  people  of  that  section  of  the 
State  could  be  counted  on  as  thoroughly  true  to  the  cause 
of  independence.  An  appearance  of  preparation  for  resist- 
ance was  for  some  time  assumed,  but  the  idea  of  contesting 


the  British  advance  was  not  for  a  moment  seriously  enter- 

The  future  of  the  states  never  wore  a  more  gloomy  aspect 
than  at  this  period.  Desertions  increased  daily ;  hardly  a 
recruit  joined  the  army,  and  the  militia  remaining  could  not 
be  depended  on  for  any  active  duty.  There  was  imminent 
danger  that  the  force  might  be  hemmed  in  between  the 
Passaic  and  Hackensack  rivers  and  be  unable  to  extricate 
itself.  For  the  patriot  army  to  give  battle  was  but  to  invite 
defeat  and  the  early  surrender  of  "  the  lives,  fortunes  and 
sacred  honor  "  which  its  representatives  in  the  Continental 
Congress  had  just  solemnly  pledged.  A  retreat  across  the 
State  was  the  only  alternative,  and  this  must  be  made  by  a 
demoralized  band,  closely  followed  by  the  trained  troops  of 
Britain.     It  was,  indeed,  a  hazardous  expedient. 

By  the  direction  of  Congress,  General  Washington  ordered 
General  Philip  Schuyler,  who,  with  the  Continental  line  of 
New  Jersey  and  Pennsylvania,  was  then  at  Ticonderoga,  on 
Lake  Champlain,  to  send  aid  to  him  without  delay.  These 
troops,  however,  had  nearly  completed  their  terms  of  service, 
and  were  reluctant  to  re-enlist  for  the  war.  Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Hugh  Mercer,  with  his  flying  camp  which  had  been 
stationed  at  Bergen  Neck  for  some  months,  was  ordered  to 
report  to  the  commander-in-chief,  although  his  troops,  hav- 
ing scarcely  a  week  longer  to  serve,  were  rapidly  absenting 
themselves  without  leave.  Major-General  Charles  Lee,  who 
had  commanded  the  rear-guard  of  the  army  during  the  oc- 
cupancy of  New  York,  and  who  was  still  stationed  at  White 
Plains,  on  the  east  side  of  the  Hudson  River,  under  orders 
from  General  Washington,  dated  November  lo,  1776,^  had 
been  instructed  to  cross  the  river  and  join  the  main  army. 
General  Lee's  command,  like  the  rest,  was  suffering  from  de- 
sertions. Having  completed  all  the  preparations  which  could 
be  made,  General  Washington  began  the  retreat  through  the 
Jerseys  with  only  twenty-eight  regiments  of  infantry,  three 

1  The  Lee  Papers,  vol.  ii.  p.  267,  New  York  Historical  Society  Col- 


companies  of  artillery  and  a  detachment  of  dragoons,  —  say, 
5500  oiBcers  and  men.^ 

As  already  stated.  General  Washington  feared  that  his 
army  might  soon  be  hemmed  in  between  the  Hackensack 
and  Passaic  rivers ;  therefore,  on  the  2 1  st  day  of  Novem- 
ber he  began  his  march  southward  by  crossing  the  Acquack- 
anonk  bridge  over  the  Passaic  River  to  its  westerly  bank, 
and,  during  the  evening  of  the  22d  and  early  on  the  morning 
of  the  23d,  posted  his  force  at  Newark.  The  British  ad- 
vance column  under  Major-General  the  Hon.  John  Vaughan, 
colonel  of  the  Forty-sixth  regiment  of  foot,  soon  after  ap- 
peared on  the  east  bank  of  the  Hackensack  River,  ready 
to  commence  the  march  into  New  Jersey  which  General 
Washington  had  predicted  in  his  letter  to  Congress,  Novem- 
ber 6,  1776.  The  rear-guard  of  the  American  army,  which 
had  remained  near  the  village  of  Hackensack,  quickly  burned 
the  bridge  over  the  river,  and  hastened  to  join  their  retreat- 
ing comrades. 

Amid  all  these  discouraging  circumstances.  General  Wash- 
ington was  still  planning  some  movement  which  might  bring 
success.  The  Rev.  William  Gordon,  D.  D.,  in  his  "History 
of  the  American  Revolution,"  gives  us  this  account  of  a 
conversation  which  is  said  to  have  occurred  about  this 
time  between  the  American  chief  and  his  adjutant-general : 
"  Should  we  retreat  to  the  back  parts  of  Pennsylvania,  will 
the  Pennsylvanians  support  us  .? "  Colonel  Reed  answered, 
"  If  the  lower  counties  are  subdued  and  give  up,  the  back 
counties  will  do  the  same."  The  general  passed  his  hand 
over  his  throat,  and  remarked :  "  My  neck  does  not  feel 
as  though  it  was  made  for  a  halter.  We  must  retire  to 
Augusta  County  in  Virginia.  Numbers  will  be  obliged  to 
repair  to  us  for  safety ;  and  we  must  try  what  we  can  do  in 
carrying  on  a  predatory  war ;  and  if  overpowered  we  must 
cross  the  Alleghany  Mountains."  It  is  quite  apparent  that 
he  had  no  intention  of  abandoning  the  sacred  cause  to  which 
he  had  devoted  his  life. 

^  For  details  see  Part  ii.  No.  i. 


Even  at  this  early  stage  of  the  war  we  can  clearly  trace 
in  the  character  of  Washington  qualities  all  important  to  a 
successful  commanding  general  —  a  brave  heart,  unwearied 
vigilance,  great  strength  of  will  and  boundless  resources. 
His  profession  in  early  life  made  him  a  close  observer  of  the 
topography  of  the  country  through  which  he  passed,  and 
prepared  him  to  utilize  his  knowledge  when  the  time  for  ac- 
tion arrived.  Defeat  seldom  depressed  him  for  any  length 
of  time,  and  in  the  hour  of  victory  he  preserved  a  calm 
demeanor.  His  patience  under  the  ofttimes  slow  and  unwise 
action  of  Congress  is  a  marvel  to  the  historians  of  to-day. 
His  dignified  bearing  attracted  the  attention  of  everyone, 
and  the  grandetir  of  his  character  and  hfe  compelled  all  to 
honor,  respect  and  trust  him.  Far  above  the  petty  intrigues 
of  military  life,  he  was  so  strong  in  his  patriotism,  so  pro- 
found in  his  conviction  of  ultimate  success,  that  all  cabals 
ended  in  finding  him  stronger  alike  with  the  soldiery  and 
the  people. 

At  Newark  General  Washington  halted  his  entire  force, 
sent  his  sick  to  Morristown,  and  made  every  exertion  to  re- 
organize his  shattered  command.  Desertions  were  of  hourly 
occurrence.  The  New  Jersey  brigade  had  about  completed 
its  tour  of  duty,  and  all  the  influence  of  its  leaders  was 
required  to  prevent  the  dissolution  of  the  army. 

At  this  juncture  one  more  effort  was  made  by  the  com- 
mander-in-chief to  procure  reinforcements.  His  adjutant- 
general,  Colonel  Joseph  Reed,  a  Jerseyman  by  birth,  was 
dispatched  to  Governor  William  Livingston  on  November 
23,  with  the  urgent  request  that  he  and  the  legislature  of 
New  Jersey,  then  sitting  at  Burlington,  would  urge  forward 
recruits  for  the  army.  General  Washington  wrote,  "The 
critical  situation  of  our  affairs  and  the  movements  of  the 
enemy  make  some  further  and  immediate  exertions  abso- 
lutely necessary." 

No  man  was  more  freely  admitted  to  the  confidence  and 
counsel  of  General  Washington  than  his  friend  Reed,  and  to 
no  man  did  he  more  frequently  refer  for  advice.     To  him 


Washington  always  wrote  with  a  familiarity  and  frankness 
wliicli  lie  never  used  toward  any  other  officer.  Colonel  Reed 
was  always  energetic  and  brave,  a  model  staff  officer,  a  "  won- 
derfully quick,  penetrating    genius,"   and    an    accomplished 


gentleman.  Who  has  not  heard  the  indignant  answer  which 
he  made  to  George  Johnstone,  the  British  diplomatist,  who 
had  tried  to  bribe  him  to  return  to  the  support  of  the  Eng- 
lish crown,  —  "I  am  not  worth  purchasing,  but,  such  as  I  am, 
the  King  of  Great  Britain  is  not  rich  enough  to  do  it." 

As  a  result  of  Adjutant-General  Reed's  efforts  an  act 
was  passed  by  the  Council  and  General  Assembly  of  New 
Jersey  to  organize  four  battalions  of  state  troops  by  embody- 
ing, as  occasion  required,  a  certain  quota  of  volunteers  from 
the  militia  of  the  different  counties.  Great  efforts  were 
made  to  put  this  force  into  the  field,  but  it  does  not  appear 


that  they  took  any  part  in  the  brilHant  events  which  fol- 

Brigadier-General  Thomas  Mifflin,  at  the  request  of  the 
other  general  officers,  was  sent  to  Congress,  then  in  session 
at  Philadelphia,  and  to  the  adjacent  counties,  to  arouse  the 
patriotism  of  the  people  and  urge  them,  in  view  of  the  im- 
pending fate  of  their  principal  city,  to  encourage  enlistments 
and  hurry  forward  troops.  He  was  well  received  by  Con- 
gress, he  "  spoke  animatedly  pleasing,  which  gave  great  satis- 
faction," and  a  committee  was  appointed  to  advise  with  him 
and  aid  him.  His  success  in  dispatching  reinforcements 
will  appear  more  fully  hereafter.^ 

To  add  to  his  discouragement,  Washington  was  compelled, 
on  November  24,  to  send  Colonel  David  Forman  and  his  bat- 
talion from  General  Nathaniel  Heard's  brigade  to  Monmouth 
County  to  suppress  an  outbreak  among  the  loyalists  of  that 
section  of  the  State,  with  orders  to  "  apprehend  all  persons 
who  appear  to  be  concerned  in  any  plot  or  design  against 
the  liberty  or  safety  of  the  United  States."  "  Black  David," 
as  he  was  called,  full  of  energy  and  merciless  severity,  was 
the  very  man  to  suppress  an  intestine  conflict  around  his 
own  home.     This  he  did  quickly  and  well. 

On  November  26  the  American  force  at  Newark  made 
a  demonstration  against  the  English,  but  it  was  ineffectual. 
On  Thursday  morning,  the  28th  day  of  November,  Wash- 
ington abandoned  the  town,  after  a  rest  of  nearly  a  week, 
and  with  his  broken  forces  resumed  the  memorable  retreat 
through  the  Jerseys.     Again  and  again  he  hoped  to  receive 

1  General  Mifflin  was  well  suited  for  this  work.  He  was  born  in 
Philadelphia  in  tlie  year  1744,  and  although  of  Quaker  parentage  he 
early  displayed  all  the  great  qualifications  of  the  soldier.  When  Gen- 
eral Washington  took  command  of  the  army,  Mifflin  was  placed  on  his 
staff  as  colonel  and  quartermaster-general.  He  was  made  a  brigadier- 
general,  May  16,  1776,  and  October  i  of  the  same  year  Congress  re- 
quested him  to  resume  the  office  of  quartermaster-general.  Soon  after 
the  battle  of  Princeton  he  received  tlie  commission  of  major-general. 
He  was  a  man  of  pleasing  manners,  singularly  attractive  presence,  and 
in  speech  he  was  truly  eloquent. 


aid  from  the  militia  of  New  Jersey  and  the  neighboring 
States,  so  tliat  he  might  make  a  temporary  stand,  inflict 
some  damage  on  the  foe,  and  then  retire  to  the  Delaware 
River.  But  no  large  body  of  recruits  joined  him  until  he 
reached  Trenton,  and  all  the  while  the  remnant  of  his  ragged 
army  was  compelled  to  fall  back  before  the  British  force. 


12,000  strong,  confidently  advancing.  The  enemy's  advance 
guard  entered  Newark,  November  28,  as  the  American  army 
left  that  city. 

It  is  difficult  to  understand  how  the  patriot  army  sustained 
itself  and  concealed  its  weakness  in  the  face  of  such  a  power- 
ful enemy.  A  very  small  detachment  of  the  Second  regi- 
ment of  light  dragoons.   Continental  army,  commanded  by 


Colonel  Elisha  Sheldon  of  Connecticut,  appears  to  have  been 
the  only  cavalry  for  protecting  the  flanks  of  the  American 
army  and  impeding  the  British  advance.  ^ 

When  the  Americans  left  Newark,  one  column  marched 
by  way  of  Elizabeth  Town  and  Woodbridge,  and  the  other 
by  Springfield,  Scotch  Plains,  and  Quibbletown,  now  New 
Market,  Middlesex  County,  reaching  Brunswick  at  noon  on 
Friday,  the  29th  day  of  November.  They  formed  a  junc- 
tion there  with  a  small  body  of  troops  under  Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Lord  Stirling,  which  had  been  sent  in  advance  to  guard 
the  river  at  Brunswick  and  the  coast  at  Amboy  against  any 
unexpected  incursion  of  the  British. 

Shortly  before  this  period  Lieutenant-General  Sir  William 
Howe  had  succeeded  General  Gage  in  the  command  of  all 
the  forces  of  Great  Britain  in  America,  and  had  established 
his  headquarters  in  New  York.  This  command  he  contin- 
ued to  hold  until  the  spring  of  1778,  when  he  was  succeeded 
by  Sir  Henry  Clinton.  General  Howe  was  a  poor  com- 
mander for  an  army  whose  business  it  was  to  crq^h  out 
rebellion.  He  was  fond  of  taking  his  own  ease,  and  given 
to  postponing  decisive  action.  The  fascinations  of  gaming 
and  the  blandishments  of  beauty  had  more  charms  for  him 
than  the  rough  path  of  duty  in  a  soldier's  life.  General  Lee 
said  of  him,  "  He  was  the  most  indolent  of  mortals,  and  never 
took  pains  to  examine  the  merits  or  demerits  of  the  cause  in 
which  he  was  engaged." 

It  has  always  seemed  strange  that  General  Howe  did  not 

1  We  find  the  members  of  this  detachment  described  in  Captain 
Graydon's  Memoirs  as  "  old-fashioned  men,  apparently  beyond  the  me- 
ridian of  life.  They  were  truly  irregulars;  and  whether  their cloathing, 
equipments  or  caparisons  were  regarded,  it  would  have  been  difficult  to 
have  discovered  any  circumstance  of  uniformity.  Instead  of  carbines 
and  sabres,  they  generally  carried  fowling  pieces  ;  some  of  them  very 
long,  and  such  as  are  used  for  shooting  ducks.  Their  order  of  march 
corresponded  with  their  other  irregularities.  It  spindled  into  longitude 
immense.  One  of  them,  on  being  captured,  told  the  British  officers, 
who  made  themselves  very  merry  at  his  expense  and  obliged  him  to 
amble  about  for  their  entertainment,  that  his  duty  in  the  army  '  was  to 
flank  a  little  and  carry  tidings.'  " 


intercept  General  Washington's  retreat  before  he  reached 
the  Raritan  River.  A  force  sent  from  New  York  on  the 
vessels  of  his  brother,  Lord  Richard  Howe,  admiral  of  the 
British  fleet,  could  have  landed  at  South  Amboy,  marched 
along  the  Raritan  River,  and  cut  off  the  retreating  army, 
which   would   have    been   crushed  between  the  two   British 


columns.  That  this  was  sugfErested  in  Ensflish  war  councils 
is  evident,  as  Sir  Henry  Clinton  insisted  that  the  expedi- 
tion destined  for  Rhode  Island  should  be  "  landed  at  Amboy 
to  have  co-operated  with  Lord  Cornwallis  or  should  be 
embarked  on  board  Lord  Howe's  fleet  and  landed  on  the 
Delaware  and  taken  possession  of  Philadelphia."  General 
Washington's  rapid  movement  from  Newark  to  Brunswick 
certainly  implied  that  he  feared  he  might  have  an  enemy  in 
front  as  well  as  in  the  rear.^ 

'  Major  Stephen  Kemble,  deputy  adjutant-general  of  General  Howe, 


At  Brunswick,  in  the  very  face  of  the  enemy,  then  at 
Woodbridge  and  near  to  Amboy,  the  mihtia  of  the  flying 
camps  of  Maryland  and  New  Jersey,  which  had  been  enhsted 
only  until  the  ist  of  December  by  virtue  of  an  order  to 
"  reinforce  the  army  at  New  York,"  and  whose  terms  of  ser- 
vice had  now  expired,  demanded  their  discharge,  notwith- 
standing the  patriotic  appeals  of  General  Mercer,  and  almost 
to  a  man  left  for  their  homes.  Desertions  still  continued, 
and  to  such  a  degree  that  it  was  found  necessary  to  request 
Governor  Livingston  to  post  proper  guards  on  the  roads 
south  of  Trenton  and  at  all  the  ferries  across  the  Delaware 
River,  to  arrest  all  the  soldiers  without  a  regular  discharge 
or  pass,  so  that  the  Pennsylvania  militia,  which  still  had  one 
month  to  serve,  might  not  also  escape  over  the  river. 

As  General  Greene  informed  Governor  Cooke  of  Rhode 
Island,  the  American  army,  at  this  time,  did  not  number 
3000  efficient  men. 

General  Washington  once  more  made  an  attempt  to  pro- 
cure reinforcements,  "because,"  he  said,  "of  the  broken 
state  of  our  troops,  and  that  the  enemy  had  changed  their 
plan,  and  were  rapidly  advancing  on  the  Delaware."  He 
sent  another  messenger  to  Governor  Livingston  to  urge  the 
necessity  for  troops  to  drive  out  the  invaders.^ 

makes  this  "  Observation  on  the  Conduct  of  Commanders  in  Chief  of 
Armies,"  etc.,  in  his  journal:  "After  Fort  Washington  was  taken  why 
not  send  a  detachment  of  the  Army  to  Brunswick  to  cut  off  Mr.  Wash- 
ington's Retreat,  while  Lord  Cornwallis  was  pursuing  him  to  Newark 
etc.  ?  General  Clinton's  Troops  would  have  answered  that  purpose 
Efiectually."  He  also  adds  in  the  same  strain :  "  Why  not  pursue  Wash- 
ington from  Brunswick  with  more  Spirit?  His  Cannon  and  Baggage 
must  have  fallen  into  our  hands.  Provisions  might  have  been  sent  to 
Brunswick  for  all  these  services  by  Water  and  no  delay  in  the  proceed- 
ings of  the  Troops."  —  N.  Y.  Hist.  Soc.  Collections.,  1883,  p.  104. 

1  William  Livingston  was  the  first  governor  of  New  Jersey  under  the 
Constitution,  having  been  elected  August  13,  1776.  He  was  born  in 
1723,  and  educated  at  Yale  College.  He  was  a  lawyer  by  profession 
and  also  a  writer  of  considerable  talent.  No  one  was  more  zealous 
than  he  in  urging  the  colonies  to  separate  from  the  mother  country, 
and  after  the  separation  no  one  was  more  faithful  in  defending  the 



It  was  impossible,  liowever,  for  even  so  patriotic  a  gov- 
ernor to  do  much  to  aid  tlie  retreating  army.  The  legisla- 
ture, on  the  first  knowledge  of  the  movements  of  the  enemy, 
left  Princeton  for  Trenton,  and  then  removed  to  Burlineton 


Even  there  they  did  not  remain  long,  but  soon  dispersed  to 
their  homes. 

To  all  these  discouragements  was  added  the  fact  that  the 
Tories,  of  whom  there  were  many  in  the  State  through  which 
the  army  was  retreating,  spoke  out  openly  in  favor  of  the 


royal  cause,  and  the  Quakers,  always  friendly  to  peace,  if 
not  loyalists,  were  doing  nothing  to  aid  the  cause  of  inde- 

Again  General  Lee  was  urged  to  hasten  his  column  to  the 
support  of  the  commander-in-chief.      Washington  wrote  him 

rights  of  New  Jersey  against  all  opposers.  He  was  re-elected  governor, 
annually,  fourteen  times,  and  died  in  office,  July  25,  rypo. 


from  Brunswick,  December  i  :  "  The  force  I  have  with  me 
is  infinitely  inferior  in  numbers,  and  such  as  cannot  give  or 
promise  the  least  successful  opposition.  I  must  entreat  you 
to  hasten  your  march  as  much  as  possible,  or  your  arrival 
may  be  too  late  to  answer  any  valuable  purpose."  ^ 

^  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  62. 


As  soon  as  Washington  arrived  at  Brunswick  he  directed 
Colonel  Richard  Humpton,  commanding  the  Eleventh  Penn- 
sylvania regiment,  Continental  line,  then  organizing  in  that 
State,  to  collect  all  the  boats  on  the  Delaware  River,  and 
secure  them  on  the  west  bank  opposite  Trenton. i 

He  sent  General  William  Maxwell  to  the  Delaware  River 
on  the  same  mission.  He  also  directed  General  Putnam  to 
have  rafts  made  from  timber  to  be  found  at  the  ferry  land- 
ing in  that  village. 

A  semblance  of  preparation  for  resistance  was  made  at 
Brunswick  to  deceive  the  enemy's  pickets,  and  thus  gain 
time.  But  on  Sunday  afternoon,  December  i,  on  the  ap- 
proach of  the  British  column  to  the  bridge  across  the  Raritan 
River  and  the  banks  along  its  fordable  parts,  the  little  army 
of  Americans  partially  destroyed  the  bridge,  and  retired 
toward  Princeton  under  cover  of  a  brisk  fire  from  Captain 
Alexander  Hamilton's  battery.^ 

Washington  entered  Princeton  between  eight  and  nine 
o'clock  on  the  morning  of  December  2,  wrote  a  letter  to  the 
President  of  Congress,  and,  tradition  says,  partook  of  break- 
fast at  the  residence  of  Quartermaster  Robert  Stockton, 
still  standing,  on  Constitution  Hill,  and  with  the  main  body 
of  the  army  pushed  on  immediately  to  Trenton,  which  he 
reached  before  noon.^      In  Trenton  he  learned  that  Lord 

^  Part  ii.  No.  2. 

2  It  is  said  of  Hamilton's  battery  that  "it  was  a  model  of  discipline; 
its  captain  a  mere  boy,  with  small,  slender,  and  delicate  frame,  who 
with  cocked  hat  pulled  down  over  his  eyes,  and  apparently  lost  in 
thought,  marched  beside  a  cannon,  patting  it  every  now  and  then  as  if 
it  were  a  favorite  horse  or  pet  plaything." 

"  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  63. 


Cornwallis  had  halted  his  column  near  Brunswick.  It  ap- 
pears that  orders  had  been  received  from  General  Howe  to 
go  no  farther  than  Brunswick ;  but  Cornwallis,  thinking 
that  he  could  virtually  annihilate  the  fragment  of  an  army  in 


front  of  him  by  a  sharp  pursuit,  sent  a  message  to  Howe  for 
])ermission  to  attack  the  Americans  before  they  could  cross 
the  ri\'er.  Howe's  inertness  undoubtedly  saved  the  patriot 
army,  for  his  answer  to  Cornwallis  was  that  he  "would  join 
him  immediately  ;  "  but  he  did  not  do  so  before  December  6. 
He  brought  with  him  the  fourth  brigade,  Major-General 
Tames  Grant  commandins:.  In  this  brifjade  was  a  stronff 
contingent  of  Hessians,  commanded  by  Colonel  Rail.  Evi- 
dently Howe's  plan  was  to  obtain  a  foothold  in  the  State, 
place  a  large  body  of  troops  in  winter  quarters,  with  a  fine 



opportunity  of  procuring  provisions  for  his  men  and  for  his 
horses,  and  then  await  the  opening  of  the  following  spring 
for  active  operations. 

As  soon  as  he  found  the  British  army  had  halted,  Wash- 
ington ordered  two  brigades,  consisting  of  five  regiments 
from  Virginia  and  the  Delaware  regiment,  in  all  about  1400 
men,  under  command  of  Brigadier-General  Lord  Stirling, 
senior  officer,  and  Brigadier-General  Adam  Stephen,  to  re- 
main near  Princeton,  observe  the  enemy's  movements,  and 
cover  the  passage  of  stores  and  baggage  over  the  Delaware 

On  December  6  Major-General  Greene  returned  to  Prince- 
ton with  an  additional  force  of  1200  men,  and  assumed  com- 
mand there  ;  soon  after,  the  entire  American  army  was 
concentrated  at  Trenton. 

The  king's  troops,  with  General   Howe  in  supreme  com- 


mand,  left  Brunswick  at  four  o'clock  on  the  morning  of 
December  7  in  two  columns,  one  corps  commanded  by  f^ord 
Cornwallis  and  the  other  by  Colonel  von  Dono]3.  The 
advance  guard  of  the  left  column  entered  Princeton  the  same 


afternoon,  but  the  right  column  did  not  reach  there  until 
some  hours  after  dark.  Lord  Cornwallis  took  immediate 
possession  of  the  college  buildings  and  the  Presbyterian 
church.  The  British  army  held  the  village  of  Princeton  for 
nearly  a  month,  during  which  time  they  pillaged  the  houses 
of  the  principal  patriots.  "Tusculum,"  the  residence  of  the 
Rev.  Dr.  John  Witherspoon,  president  of  the  college,  was 
stripped,  and  "Morven,"  the  home  of  the  Hon.  Richard 
Stockton,  who,  as  well  as  Dr.  Witherspoon,  had  signed  the 
Declaration  of  Independence,  was  denuded  of  its  library  and 
furniture.  The  residence  of  Jonathan  Dickinson  Sergeant, 
now  the  Miller  property,  was  burned  by  the  soldiery. 

General  Washington  finished  his  masterly  retreat  through 
New  Jersey  with  scarcely  the  los'fe  of  a  single  life,  and 
reached  the  banks  of  the  Delaware  River  with  his  bare- 
footed and  almost  naked  army.  It  was  a  march  of  hardly 
one  hundred  miles,  and  yet  Washington  had  prolonged  to  a 
journey  of  nearly  three  weeks  what  might  have  been  ac- 
complished in  four  days,  had  Lord  Cornwallis  pressed  him 
closely.  As  Washington  said,  "Nothing  but  the  infatuation 
of  the  enemy  "  saved  them.^ 

During  the  retreat  but  few  recruits  joined  the  American 
army,  though  at  Trenton  a  small  detachment  of  the  New 
Jersey  militia,  belonging  to  the  First  regiment,  Hunterdon 
brigade.  Colonel  Isaac  Smith,  and  part  of  the  Second  regi- 
ment, Middlesex  brigade.  Colonel  John  Neilson,  volunteered 
to  assist  the  forlorn  cause.^ 

1  Thomas  Paine,  who  was  with  the  army  on  this  march,  says  :  "  With 
a  handful  of  men  we  sustained  an  orderly  retreat  for  nearly  a  hundred 
miles,  brought  off  our  ammunition,  all  our  fieldpieces,  the  greatest  part 
of  our  stores,  and  had  four  rivers  to  pass.  None  can  say  that  our 
retreat  was  precipitate,  for  we  were  three  weeks  in  performing  it,  that 
the  country  might  have  time  to  come.  Twice  we  marched  back  to 
meet  the  enemy  and  remained  out  until  dark." 

2  Captain  Johann  Ewald  of  the  German  yagers  refers  to  these  troops 
in  his  notes  on  the  war  in  this  language  :  "  The  irregular  militia  of  this 
province  were  brave  during  the  whole  war ;  they  performed  all  the 
service  that  could  be  expected  of  them  on  every  occasion,  and  although 




.lOHN    \VITHl-;KSrf  ION  S    HOl'SE 

The  Continental  Congress  sent  to  Trenton  a  German  bat- 
talion, raised  in  Pennsylvania  and  Maryland,  and  commanded 
by  Colonel  Nicholas  Hansseger.  As  a  first  response  to  the 
appeals  of  General  Mifflin,  Philadelphia  sent  three  battalions 
of  "  Associators  "  under  Colonel  John  Cadwalader,  Captain 
Samuel  Morris's  troop  of  light  horse,  and  Captain  Thomas 
Forrest's  battery  of  artillery  —  in  all  about  one  thousand 

General  Washington  determined  to  remain  in  Trenton  as 

often  greatly  assisted  by  the  regular  troops,  they  were  willing  to  sac- 
rifice themselves  at  their  own  hearthstones." 

1  The  militia  of  the  citv  of  Philadelphia  and  liberties  enrolled  as 
Associates  —  for  thev  had  associated  together  to  "  defend  with  arms, 
their  property,  liberty  and  lives"  —  were  called  out  for  review  Novem- 
ber 26,  when  General  Mifflin  addressed  them  in  an  eloquent  manner,  as- 
serting that  Howe's  army  contemplated  the  invasion  of  their  State.  He 
appealed  to  them  to  march  out  in  defense  of  their  commonwealth  and 
the  cause  of  freedom.  Congress  also  requested  them  to  march  into 
New  Jersey.  Another  review  took  place  November  28,  and  soon  after, 
by  detachments  and  companies,  the  city  battalions  proceeded  to  Tren- 
ton, as  stated.  They  agreed  to  remain  in  service  six  weeks,  unless 
sooner  discharged.     On  December  12  the  Assembly  offered  a  bounty 


long  as  possible.  Boats  were  still  being  gathered,  military 
stores  were  being  transported  to  the  west  of  the  Delaware 
River,  and  the  sick  and  disabled  men  sent  to  Philadelphia, 
The  Durham  boats,  much  used  at  that  time  for  carrying 
fresh  provisions  to  different  points  on  the  river,  and  which 
held  what  was  then  a  full  regiment  of  men,  were  now  put 
into  immediate  use. 

Strange  indeed  does  it  appear  that  Cornwallis,  with  his 
large  and  well-equipped  force,  did  not  crush  out  with  one 
blow  this  apology  of  an  army,  composed,  as  it  was,  of  men 
despondent,  and  many  of  them  eager  to  seek  safety  in  flight. 
The  debates  in  the  English  Parliament  show  us  that  Lord 
Cornwallis  was  once  interrogated  as  to  the  reason  the  pur- 
suit was  not  made  with  greater  rapidity.  To  save  the  re- 
putation of  General  Howe,  perhaps,  he  could  only  give  this 
rather  evasive  reply  :  "  We  wanted  reinforcements  in  order 
to  leave  troops  for  the  communication  between  Brunswick 
and  Amboy.  It  was  likewise  necessary  to  pay  some  atten- 
tion to  a  considerable  body  then  passing  the  North  River 
under  General  Lee." 

In  his  examination  Lord  Cornwallis  further  said,  as  an 
excuse  for  his  own  slow  movements  :  "  I  am  free  to  say  that 
I  could  not  have  pursued  the  enemy  from  Brunswick  with 
any  prospect  of  material  advantage  or  without  distressing 
the  troops  under  my  command.  We  arrived  at  Brunswick 
the  night  of  the  ist  of  December.  We  had  marched  that 
day  twenty  miles,  through  exceeding  bad  roads.  We  sub- 
sisted only  on  the  flour  we  found  in  the  country  ;  and  as  the 
troops  had  been  constantly  marching  ever  since  their  first 
entrance  into  the  Jerseys,  they  had  no  time  to  bake  their 
flour ;  the  artillery  horses  and  baggage  horses  of  the  army 
were  quite  tired ;  that  sufificiently  proves  that  we  were  not 
in  a  good  condition  to  undertake  a  long  march.  The  bridge 
over  the  Raritan  was  broken,  which  caused  a  necessary  delay 

of  ten  dollars  to  all  volunteers  who  should  join  General  Washington 
on  or  before  the  20th  of  the  month,  and  seven  dollars  and  five  dollars, 
respectively,  for  all  joining  before  the  25th  or  30th  of  the  month. 


of  one  day.  If  the  enemy  could  not  have  passed  at  Tren- 
ton, they  might  have  marched  down  the  east  side  of  the 
Delaware."  ^ 

The  condition  of  the  State  of  New  Jersey  during  the  pas- 
sage of  these  hostile  armies  across  its  territory  was  most 
deplorable.     Situated  between  two  large  and  powerful  States, 


close   to   two   great   cities,    one  under  British   rule  and  the 
other  the  objective  point  of  the  march  of  the  English  army, 

1  Lieutenant-General  Charles  Cornwallis  was  the  son  of  the  first  Earl 
CornwaUis.  He  commenced  military  studies  early  in  life,  was  made 
colonel  of  the  Thirty-third  foot  August  2,  1765,  major-general  September 
29,  1775,  and  January  I,  1776,  received  the  local  rank  in  America  of 
lieutenant-general.  He  was  considered  the  most  able  and  reliable  of 
all  the  English  commanders  during  the  war,  but  his  reputation  was 
greatly  stained  by  the  many  cruelties  afterward  inflicted  in  the  South- 
ern Department  by  his  e.xpress  orders. 


the  people  living  on  the  highway  between  these  centres 
of  interest  had  to  undergo  all  the  sufferings  which  follow 
in  the  track  of  war.  Their  farms  were  devastated,  their 
houses  ransacked,  their  barns  consumed,  their  money  and 
valuables  stolen,  their  cattle  and  horses,  their  forage,  crops 
and  merchandise  carried  off,  their  bridges  and  their  churches 
damaged  and  despoiled.  Society  was  thoroughly  disorgan- 
ized, quarrels  were  engendered,  families  were  subject  to 
every  indignity  or  else  were  obliged  to  flee  for  their  lives. 
The  wanton  destruction  of  private  property  by  Howe's  army 
fully  accounts  for  its  slow  movements  across  the  State.^  An 
old  Quaker  who  had  been  thoroughly  robbed  by  the  foreign 
soldiery  expressed  his  opinion  of  them  in  emphatic  language 
when  he  said  :  "  Well,  God  made  these  men,  though  I  am 
sure  the  devil  governs  them." 

The  State  was  virtually  in  the  possession  of  the  enemy, 
and  nothing  was  wanting  but  freezing  weather  to  bridge  the 
Delaware  River,  so  that  the  foe  might  pass  direct  to  the  city 
where  the  Continental  Congress  was  in  session.  The  national 
treasury  was  known  to  be  well-nigh  bankrupt,  and  all  the 
power  of  Congress  could  not  keep  up  the  credit  of  the  gov- 
ernment and  provide  for  the  relief  and  strengthening  of  the 
army.  Symptoms  of  general  distrust  in  the  power  of  Con- 
gress and  the  efficiency  of  the  army  seemed  widespread  and 

As  soon  as  the  British  army  entered  the  State,  General 
Howe  and  his  brother.  Admiral  Howe,  by  instruction  of  their 
government,  issued  a  proclamation,  dated  November  30, 
directing  all  men  in  arms  against  his  majesty's  authority  to 
return  to  their  homes.  At  the  same  time  they  tendered  a 
free  and  general  pardon,  and  a  secure  enjoyment  of  their 
liberties  and  properties,  to  all  who  would,  within  sixty  days, 
renounce  the  cause  of  independence,  claim  the  benefits  of 
this  offer,  and  declare  their  full  loyalty  to  the  crown,  and 
their  obedience  to  the  laws,  by  subscribing  a  declaration  of 

1  This  delay  of  Howe's  army  is  more  fully  explained  in  the  History 
of  Paterson,  New  Jersey,  by  William  Nelson,  vol.  i.  pp.  415,  416. 



this  submission  to  the  constitutional  authority  and  suprem- 
acy of  Great  Britain. ^  This  document  was  scattered  broad- 
cast over  the  State,  and  increased,  if  possible,  the  fears  of 
the  patriots.     There  were  many  who  thought  this  an  easy 

ADAIIKAl.    KlCllAlcli    HdWH 

method  of  sa\ing  themseh-es  and  securing  their  property 
from  molestation,  and  these  flocked  in  great  numbers  to 
make  their  submission.  It  is  said  that  twent)'-se\'en  hundred 
citizens  of  New  Jersey  took  protection  in  this  way.  Lord 
Cornwallis  stated  that  "three  or  four  hundred  came  in  e\-ery 
day  for  ten  days  to  take  protection."     When  asked  to  aid  in 

'   Part  ii.  No.  3. 


driving  out  the  foe  they  said,  "General  Howe  promises 
peace,  hberty  and  safety  —  more  than  this  we  could  not 
desire."  But  the  Reverend  James  Caldwell  (afterward  the 
patriot  martyr)  wrote  to  General  Washington  :  "  General 
Howe  gives  sixty  days  of  grace  and  pardons  from  the  Con- 
o-ress  down   to  the  committee.      No  one  man   in  the   Con- 


tinent  is  to  be  denied  his  mercy.  The  Lord  deliver  us  from 
his  mercy." 

The  timid,  the  distrustful,  the  sycophantic,  in  this  dark 
hour  cjuietly  entered  the  liritish  lines  and  craved  protection. 
They  apologized  to  their  more  patriotic  neighbors  and  the 
reproof  of  their  own  consciences  by  saying  they  did  not  be- 
lieve in  war  ;  that  they  opposed  rebellion  ;  that  all  wrongs 
should  be  constitutionally  righted,  and  that  acts  of  Congress, 

■^c^,.^»^^ M ^.._i^ ..       ,  ■  ^a/i' 


Original  lu   possession  of  Author 

recently  adopted,  especially  that  of  the  Declarati(jn  of  Inde- 
pendence from  the  mother  country,  were  too  hastily  drawn 
and  voted  on  before  the  delegates  properly  understood  the 
views  of  their  constituents.  They  thought  the  army  thor- 
oughly routed,  the  cause  virtually  abandoned,  and  that  their 
clear  duty  was  to  insure  the  protection  and  safety  of  thcjse 
dependent  upon  them. 

However,  the  Hessian  soldiery  had  little  regard  for  these 
protection  papers,  which  they  would  not  read  and  did  not  care 
to  understand.  They  looked  upon  everything  in  an  enemy's 
country  as  free  for  them  to  enjoy.     The  British  soldiers,  too, 


thought  the  plundering  of  the  people  a  fair  game,  and  they 
did  not  relish  the  idea  of  the  German  troops  taking  all  the 
spoils.  Therefore  both  acted  regardless  of  "safeguards," 
and  shamefully  violated  the  pledged  faith,  attacking  friend 
and  foe,  irrespective  of  age  or  sex.  Their  brutal  passions, 
uncontrolled  by  any  order  of  their  superior  officers,  urged 
them  to  commit  acts  of  rapine  that  were  both  distressing  and 

In  reference  to  the  brutal  conduct  of  the  British  troops 
and  the  Hessian  mercenaries.  Governor  Livingston,  in  his 
message  to  the  Council  and  General  Assembly  of  New  Jer- 
sey, February  25,  1777,  made  the  following  forcible  state- 
ment :  "  The  rapacity  of  the  enemy  was  boundless,  their  rapine 
indiscriminate,  and  their  barbarity  unparalleled.  They  have 
plundered  friends  and  foes.  Effects  capable  of  division  they 
have  divided  ;  such  as  were  not  they  have  destroyed.  They 
have  warred  upon  decrepit  age ;  warred  upon  defenseless 
youth.  They  have  committed  hostilities  against  the  pro- 
fessors of  literature  and  the  ministers  of  religion ;  against 
public  records  and  private  monuments  ;  against  books  of  im- 
provement and  papers   of   curiosity  ;    and  against  the   arts 

1  This  is  frankly  admitted  under  date  of  November  24,  1776,  in  the 
journal  of  Major  Stephen  Kemble,  deputy  adjutant-general  of  General 
Howe,  wherein  he  says  :  "  His  lordship  will  not  be  able  to  restrain  the 
troops  from  plundering  the  country;  their  excess  in  that  respect  is 
carried  to  a  most  unjustifiable  length."  Dunlap,  in  his  History  of  the 
American  Theatre,  thus  describes  the  conduct  of  the  British  soldiery 
at  Piscataway  in  the  march  through  New  Jersey:  "  I  saw  the  soldiers 
plundering  the  houses,  the  women  of  the  village  trembling  and  weeping 
or  flying  with  their  children ;  the  men  had  retired  to  await  the  day  of 
retribution.  In  many  houses  helpless  old  men  or  widowed  females 
anxiously  awaited  the  soldiers  of  monarchy.  A  scene  of  promiscuous 
pillage  was  in  full  operation.  Here  a  soldier  was  seen  issuing  from  a 
house  armed  with  a  frying-pan  and  gridiron,  and  hastening  to  deposit 
them  with  the  stove  over  which  his  helpmate  kept  watch.  The  wo- 
men who  had  followed  the  army  assisted  their  husbands  in  bringing 
the  furniture  from  the  houses,  or  stood  sentinels  to  guard  the  pile  of 
kitchen  utensils  or  other  articles  already  secured  and  claimed  by  right 
of  war." 


and  sciences.  They  have  butchered  the  wounded  asking 
for  quarter ;  mangled  the  dying  weltering  in  their  blood ; 
refused  the  dead  the  rights  of  sepulchre ;  suffered  prisoners 
to  perish  for  want  of  sustenance  ;  violated  the  chastity  of 
women ;  disfigured  private  dwellings  of  taste  and  elegance ; 
and  in  the  rage  of  impiety  and  barbarism  profaned  edifices 
dedicated  to  Almighty  God." 

Sir  Henry  Clinton  afterward  severely  criticised  the  course 
of  the  English  army  in  plundering  the  people  of  New  Jersey, 
many  of  whom,  as  is  well  known,  were  kindly  disposed  toward 
them,  and  some  of  whom  had  renewed  their  allegiance  to  the 
crown.  These  are  his  words  :  "  Unless  we  would  refrain 
from  plundering  we  had  no  business  to  take  up  winter  quar- 
ters in  a  district  we  wished  to  preserve  loyal.  The  Hessians 
introduced  it." 


To  return  to  the  little  army  at  Trenton.  During  the 
night  of  December  6,  or  early  in  the  morning  of  December 
7,  General  Washington  set  out  with  a  small  body  of  men  on 
the  road  toward  Maidenhead,  now  Lawrenceville,  and  Prince- 
ton. He  had  not  marched  far  before  he  came  up  with  Gen- 
eral Greene's  command  on  the  retreat  to  Trenton,  the  First 
Maryland  regiment  and  the  Delaware  regiment  covering  the 
rear  of  the  column.  The  British  army,  after  nearly  twenty 
hours'  rest  in  Princeton,  commenced  the  march  toward  the 
river  by  different  roads,  hoping  to  intercept  or  get  in  the 
rear  of  the  patriot  lines,  in  some  place,  and  so  prevent  any 
attempt  to  cross.  At  Stony  Brook  the  column  was  obliged 
to  halt  and  repair  the  bridge  over  that  stream,  which  had 
been  broken  down  by  the  Americans  in  their  retreat,  and  it 
was  not  until  nine  o'clock  on  the  morning  of  December  8 
that  it  was  rendered  fit  for  the  passage  of  artillery. 

General  Washington  was  privately  censured,  even  by  his 
own  officers,  for  risking  his  army,  by  keeping  them  on  the 
Jersey  side  of  the  river,  and  delaying  the  crossing  until  the 
royal  forces  threatened  their  entire  capture  by  a  single  forced 
movement.  Colonel  George  Weedon  of  the  Third  Virginia 
Continental  regiment,  keenly  alive  to  the  danger  of  the  situa- 
tion, wrote  a  friend  at  Fredericksburg,  Virginia,  that  "  Gen- 
eral Howe  had  a  mortgage  on  the  rebel  army  for  some  time, 
but  had  not  yet  foreclosed  it." 

Boats  which  had  been  used  for  conveying  the  military 
stores  having  been  placed  in  readiness  on  the  bank  of  the 
river  near  the  village  of  Trenton,  the  passage  of  the  troops 
commenced  at  Beatty's  and  Trenton  ferries,  just  above 
and  below  the  falls.  During  the  afternoon  of  December  7, 
and  up  to  daylight  of  Sunday,  December  8,  the  boats  were 


constantly  passing  back  and  forth.  Lieutenant-Colonel 
David  Henley,  acting  as  deputy  adjutant-general  on  General 
Washington's  staff,  superintended  the  transfer  of  the  troops 
to  the  Pennsylvania  side  of  the  river,  and  was  with  the  rear- 
guard as  the  army  passed  over. 

Scarcely  had  the  last  of  the  Americans  crossed  in  safety 
when  the  British  fourth  brigade,  two  battalions  of  light 
infantry,  three  battalions  of  Hessian  grenadiers,  and  the 
reserves,  the  advance  of  the  royal  army,  entered  Trenton 
with  music  and  much  display.  ■  The  Hessian  battalions, 
under  command  of  Colonel  von  Donop,  came  into  the  town 
about  eleven  o'clock  in  the  morning  of  December  8,  and  as 
they  marched  down  to  the  river  bank  they  were  greeted 
with  a  shower  of  grapeshot  from  the  western  shore. 

Having  tarried  in  Princeton  for  nearly  an  entire  day,  the 
British  army  had  then  taken  fully  twice  the  necessary  time 
to  reach  Trenton.  Their  action,  in  this  respect,  was  a 
source  of  considerable  satisfaction  to  General  Washington. 

Another  division  of  the  corps  of  Lord  Cornwallis,  and 
under  his  immediate  command,  halted  for  the  night  at  Maid- 
enhead, about  six  miles  from  Trenton,  preferring  to  wait 
until  morning  before  entering  the  town.  But  at  one  o'clock 
in  the  morning  of  December  9  he  was  ordered  to  take  a 
strong  detachment,  consisting  of  two  battalions  of  British 
grenadiers,  three  battalions  of  British  light  infantry,  the 
Forty-second  British  regiment,  and  two  battalions  of  British 
foot,  and  cross  the  river  about  two  miles  south  of  Coryell's 
Ferry,  or  twelve  miles  above  Trenton,  capture  the  boats 
there  collected,  and  then  attempt  to  carry  over  the  whole 
army.  He  failed,  however,  to  find  the  means  to  get  his  de- 
tachment over  the  river,  and  like  the  Hessians  at  Trenton, 
was  greeted  with  shot  from  the  opposite  bank.  Every  boat 
which  could  be  pressed  into  service  had  been  brought  to  the 
Pennsylvania  shore  and  fastened  ;  and  to  secure  their  further 
safety.  General  Lord  Stirling  had  placed  a  strong  guard  over 
them.  Even  a  large  Durham  boat,  which  had  been  sunk 
in  the  river  a  few  days  before,  had  fortunately  been  raised 



and  taken  away.  After  reconnoitring  the  shore  for  a  long 
time,  and  finding  no  possible  means  of  crossing,  the  British 
returned  to  their  posts,  halting,  however,  by  order,  at  the 
village  of  Pennington.  General  Howe's  adjutant,  Captain 
Frederick  Ernst  von  MUnchhausen,  of  the  regiment  Land- 
graff,  had  been  very  zealous  in  his  search  for  boats  and  in 
his  desire  to  place  his  Hessian  brethren  across  the  river. 

In  this  manner  General  Howe's  pursuit  of  the  Americans 
was  suddenly  checked  on  the  river  bank.  The  game  had 
been  almost  within  his  grasp,  yet  it  had  eluded  him.  Sted- 
man,  the  historian,  says  of  the  movements  of  the  British 
army  at  this  time,  that  it  looked  as  though  "  Howe  had  cal- 
culated with  the  greatest  accuracy  the  exact  time  necessary 
for  his  enemy  to  make  his  escape." 

A  detachment  of  the  British  was  also  ordered  down  the 


river  to  Bordentown,  and  this  movement  gave  the  American 
spies  the  impression  that  Howe's  intention  was  to  cross  in 
two  columns,  above  and  below  Trenton,  and  so  surround  the 
patriot  army.  But  this  party  also  was  baffled,  and  nothing 
could  now  be  done  by  the  British  but  wait  the  forming  of  ice 


Strong  enough  to  admit  of  their  passing  over  the  Delaware 
River,  the  procuring  of  boats  from  the  Raritan  River,  or  the 
building  of  flat-bottomed  boats  at  Trenton. 

On  the  morning  of  December  9  the  remnant  of  the  Amer- 
ican army  was  divided  into  parties  of  observation,  guards 
and  patrols,  to  prevent  as  far  as  possible  any  attempt  at 
crossing  the  river.  Small  earthworks  were  thrown  up  where 
a  passage  might  be  attempted,  opposite  the  ferries  known 
as  Sherwood's,  Coryell's,  McKonkey's,  Yardley's,  Howell's, 
Kirkbride's,  Beatty's,  and  Trenton.  From  Coryell's  Ferry 
to  Yardley's  Ferry  four  brigades  of  Continental  troops  were 
stationed.  These  brigades  were  commanded  by  Generals 
Stirling,  Stephen,  Mercer  and  De  Fermoy.  The  Pennsyl- 
vania militia  belonging  to  the  flying  camp,  with  a  small 
body  of  New  Jersey  militia,  protected  the  shore  from  Yard- 
ley's  Ferry  to  the  ferry  opposite  Bordentown.  At  first  the 
Philadelphia  battalions  of  Associators  were  also  stationed 
just  below  Trenton  Ferry,  and  there  they'  began  to  build 
themselves  rude  huts  for  shelter  from  the  inclement  weather. 
These  were  nearly  completed,  when,  on  December  11,  the 
third  battalion  was  ordered  to  Dunk's  Ferry,  below  Bristol, 
and  the  next  day  it  was  joined  by  the  entire  brigade. ^ 

The  commissary  and  quartermaster's  departments  of  the 
army  were  established  at  Newtown,  in  Bucks  County.  This 
village,  about  eight  miles  from  the  river,  was  a  central  point 
for  supplies  for  both  wings  of  the  army.  After  crossing 
the  river  on  December  8,  Washington  spent  the  night  at 
the  summer  residence  of  Thomas  Barclay,  about  half  a 
mile  back  from  the  shore  at  Trenton  Ferry,  now  Morris- 

'  For  the  orders  in  these  cases  see  Part  ii.  No.  2. 

^  Washington  calls  this  house  "  Mr.  Berkeley's.''  It  is  still  called 
"  Summer  Seat,"  and  is  owned  by  the  estate  of  John  H.  Osborne.  (See 
sketch  of  Thomas  Barclay,  p.  61,  Baker's  Itinerary  of  George  Wash- 
ington.) The  commander-in-chief  probably  remained  there  several 
days,  dating  all  his  letters  at  "  Headquarters,  Trenton  Falls."  He  ap- 
pears to  have  changed  his  quarters  on  December  14  to  the  farmhouse  of 
'William  Keith,  in  Upper  Makefield  Township.     This  dwelling  was  at 




On  the  evening  of  the  loth  day  of  December  Commodore 
Thomas  Seymour  was  directed  by  General  Washington  to 
place  the  galleys  under  his  command  on  the  river  between 
Bordentown  and  Philadelphia,  so  that  he  could  furnish  im- 
mediate information  of  the  appearance  of  the  enemy  on  the 
New  Jersey  shore,  or  of  any  preparation  they  might  make  to 
effect  a  crossing.  He  had  command  of  all  the  vessels,  gon- 
dolas and  row-galleys  above  the  chevaux-de-frise  at  Billings- 
port.     It  was  expected  that  a  portion  of  this  naval  force  would 

Knowles's  Creek,  about  a  mile  and  a  half  from  the  mouth  of  the  creek 
and  about  four  miles  north  of  Newtown.  The  stone  house,  which  still 
stands,  was  built  in  1763,  and  is  on  the  road  from  Brownsburg  to  the 
Eagle  Tavern,  and  on  the  south  side  of  Jericho  Hill.  General  G.reene 
quartered  in  Samuel  Merrick's  house.  General  Sullivan  in  John  Hav- 
hurst's  house;  General  Lord  Stirling  at  Robert  Thorap.son's,  the 
miller,  at  Beaumonts,  often  called  "  Blue  Mounts  ''  in  dispatches,  near 
Brownsburg,  and  Colonel  Knox  in  Dr.  Chapman's  house,  now  owned 
by  Edward  Johnson.  All  of  these  dwellings  were  near  Jericho  Hill,  an 
excellent  place  to  obtain  a  view  of  the  surrounding  country.  General 
De  Fermov  with  his  brigade  was  at  Coryell's  Ferry,  at  what  is  now 
called  New  Hope.  General  Lord  Stirling's  and  General  De  Fermov's 
brigades  built  themselves  wooden  sheds  as  barracks.  —  History  of 
Bucks  Coiintv,  Pcnn.,  by  Gen.  William  W.  H.  Davis. 


aid  materially  in  preventing  the  British  from  crossing  at 
Cooper's  Creek,  opposite  Philadelphia,  or  even  lower  down 
on  the  Jersey  shore.  The  gondolas,  armed  with  small  ship- 
guns,  cruised  up  as  far  as  the  "  Falls  "  at  Trenton,  watching 
the  enemy,  and  keeping  in  check  the  Tories,  who  were  eager 
to  obtain  information  for  the  English  officers.  These  sailors 
and  marines  also  kept  strict  control  of  the  little  village  of 
Burlington,  and  often  sent  parties  off  from  the  galleys  to 
search  for  those  unfriendly  to  the  cause  of  independence. 

Adjutant-General  Reed,  who  had  been  trying  to  hasten 
reinforcements  from  New  Jersey  for  the  army,  joined  his 
chief  at  Trenton,  and  on  December  8  again  left  the  army 
with  a  letter  for  the  Continental  Congress.  In  this  commu- 
nication the  commander-in-chief  urgently  stated  that  there 
was  "  not  a  moment's  time  to  be  lost  in  assembling  such  force 
as  can  be  collected."  In  addition  to  this  appeal,  he  made 
every  effort  in  his  power  to  strengthen  the  army.  Brigadier- 
General  William  Smallwood,  who  was  unfit  for  field  service 
on  account  of  wounds  received  at  the  battle  of  White  Plains, 
was  sent  in  all  haste  to  Maryland  and  Delaware  to  beg  them 
to  forward  militia  as  rapidly  as  possible.  Brigadier-General 
John  Armstrong,  of  Cumberland  County,  was  also  detached 
from  his  command,  and  sent  into  those  counties  of  Pennsyl- 
vania where  it  was  thought  he  could  most  effectually  arouse 
the  people. 

The  preservation  of  Philadelphia  was  now  the  desire  of 
every  patriot.  Washington  bestowed  much  thought  upon 
this  subject,  and,  having  placed  Major-General  Israel  Putnam 
in  command  of  the  city,  directed  him  to  defend  it  at  all 
hazards.  Lines  of  defense  were  then  planned  from  the  river 
Schuylkill,  covering  the  high  ground  around  Germantown  in 
an  easterly  direction  to  the  Delaware  River.i 

General  Mifflin,  having  returned  from  his  mission,  was 
then  at  the  general  headquarters,  and  was  ordered  back  to 

1  On  December  9  Washington  suggested  to  Congress  a  French  en- 
gineer of  eminence,  Colonel  Thaddeus  Kosciuszko,  as  the  proper  officer 
to  take  charge  of  this  work. 



Philadelphia  to  take  charge  of  the  supplies  and  camp  equi- 
page which  had  been  collected  there. 

On  the  loth  of  December  Congress  resolved  to  defend 
the  federal  capital  with  all  the  force  which  could  be  mus- 
tered. They  commenced  earnestly  to  work  on  a  plan  pro- 
posed by  the  commander-in-chief  for  the  reorganization  of 
the  army.  Up  to  this  time  the  militia  had  been  called  out 
by  classes,  some  for  but  one  month,  and  state  troops  had 
been  called  for  sixty  days  or  four  months.  These  short 
terms  of  service  did  much  to  impair  the  practical  efficiency 

THE    KKITH    HOI  bK.    WASHING  i  U.N  b    Hli.AD'JU.AKTLl^S 

of  the  force.  No  sooner  was  a  man  well  drilled  as  a  soldier, 
than  he  was  ready  for  discharge.  Congress  for  the  first  time 
offered  bounties  to  men  who  would  enlist  in  the  eighty  bat- 
talions of  Continental  troops  which  it  had  directed  to  be 
raised,  and  agreed  to  borrow  live  million  dollars  for  the  pur- 
pose. About  this  time  an  appeal  was  made  by  Washington 
to  Congress  not  to  wait  to  fill  up  the  old  regiments,  but  to 
increase  the  number   of  new  organizations  enlisted  for  the 


war.  He  thought  that  every  new  officer  would  draw  around 
him  an  additional  number  of  new  men  to  be  trained  for  the 
next  campaign.  Although  this  method  might  involve  con- 
siderable expense,  and  it  seemed  to  some  members  of  Con- 
gress a  dangerous  precedent,  yet  "  desperate  diseases  require 
desperate  remedies."  ^ 

Congress  also  gave  power  to  Major-General  Israel  Putnam 
to  assume  absolute  control  of  the  city  of  Philadelphia.  This 
brave  old  officer,  blunt  and  unpolished,  was  yet  true  to  his 
country's  cause.  Endowed  with  a  cool,  clear  head  and  a  de- 
termined will,  he  was  the  very  man  to  govern  the  alarmed 
and  almost  disaffected  city. 

The  state  of  affairs  in  Philadelphia  at  this  time  is  best 
shown  by  Putnam's  order,  that  all  the  inhabitants  of  the  city 
who  appeared  in  the  streets  after  ten  o'clock  at  night  should 
be  arrested  and  confined.  His  order  of  December  13  well 
describes  the  confusion  and  alarm  which  reigned  in  that  city 
during  this  dark  hour  of  our  country's  history.^ 

1  To  quote  at  length  the  picture  which  General  Washington  gives  of 
the  situation :  "  The  enemy  are  daily  gathering  strength  from  the  dis- 
affected. This  strength,  like  a  snowball,  by  rolling  will  increase,  unless 
some  means  can  be  devised  to  check  effectually  the  progress  of  the 
enemy's  arms.  Militia  may  possibly  do  it  for  a  little  while ;  but  in  a 
little  while,  also,  the  militia  of  those  states  which  have  been  frequently 
called  upon  will  not  turn  out  at  all ;  or,  if  they  do,  it  will  be  with  so 
much  reluctance  and  sloth  as  to  amount  to  the  same  thing :  —  Instance, 
New  Jersey:  — Witness,  Pennsylvania  !  Could  anything  but  the  river 
Delaware  have  saved  Philadelphia  ?  Can  anything  (the  exigency  of 
the  case  indeed  may  justify  it)  be  more  destructive  to  the  recruiting 
service,  than  giving  ten  dollars  bounty  for  six  weeks'  service  of  the 
militia,  who  come  in  you  cannot  tell  how,  go  you  cannot  tell  when ; 
consume  your  provisions,  exhaust  your  stores,  and  leave  you  at  last  at 
a  critical  moment  ?  "  —  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v. 
p.  112. 

2  "  The  general  has  been  informed  that  some  weak  or  wicked  men 
have  mahciously  reported  that  it  is  the  design  and  wish  of  the  ofiScers 
and  men  in  the  Continental  army  to  burn  and  destroy  the  city  of  Phila- 
delphia. To  counteract  such  a  false  and  scandalous  report,  he  thinks 
it  necessary  to  inform  the  inhabitants  who  propose  to  remain  in  the  city, 
that  he  has  received  positive  orders  from  the  Honorable  Continental 



On  December  1 1  Congress  passed  a  resolutiun  denoun- 
cing as  false  the  rumor  that  they  intended  to  leave  Philadel- 
phia, and  asked  General  Washington  to  publish  the  same  in 
orders  to  his  army.     This  he  declined  to  do,  in  a  letter  dated 



the  following  day  ;  ^  and  on  December  13,  forgetful  of  their 
solemn  and  indignant  resolve,  they  made  the  city  gossip  a 

Congress  and  from  his  excellency  General  Washington,  to  secure  and 
protect  the  city  of  Philadelphia  against  all  invaders  and  enemies.  The 
general  will  consider  every  attempt  to  burn  the  city  of  Philadelphia  as 
a  crime  of  the  blackest  dye,  and  will,  without  ceremony,  punisli  capi- 
tally any  incendiary  who  shall  have  the  hardiness  and  cruelty  to 
attempt  it." 

1  Ford's  JVriiings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  82. 


reality.  Under  the  advice  of  Generals  Putnam  and  Mifflin, 
Congress  fled  to  Baltimore,  leaving  Robert  Morris,  George 
Walton,  and  George  Clymer,  of  their  own  body,  to  act  for 
them  in  Philadelphia.  Oliver  Wolcott,  delegate  in  Congress 
for  Connecticut,  wrote  :  "It  was  judged  that  the  Council  of 
America  ought  not  to  sit  in  a  place  liable  to  be  interrupted 
by  the  rude  disorder  of  arms."  This  unwise  proceeding 
increased  the  alarm  in  the  city,  and  it  was  only  by  the 
watchfulness  of  the  resolute  Putnam  that  he  was  able  to 
keep  the  loyahsts  from  making  a  serious  outbreak.  The 
effect  was  also  felt  in  the  camps  on  the  Delaware.  Captain 
Samuel  C.  Morris  of  the  Philadelphia  Associators  wrote  to 
his  friends  :  "  It  has  struck  a  damp  on  ye  spirits  of  many." 


Let  us  now  return  to  the  king's  troops,  which  we  left 
vainly  trying  to  cross  the  Delaware  River  on  December  8. 
Every  effort  to  procure  boats  had  failed,  and  no  attempt  was 
made  to  build  new  ones.  The  capital  city  of  the  young 
republic  was  a  prize  worth  a  supreme  effort,  and  the  British 
soldiers  were  certainly  competent  to  build  bateaux  and  rafts. 
A  hundred  wooden  houses  in  the  village  would  have  given 
them  the  material,  if  nothing  else  was  at  hand ;  and  John 
Rickey's  hardware  store  and  the  blacksmith  shops  of  Joseph 
and  Samuel  Lanning,  Joshua  Newbold  and  Hezekiah  How- 
ell would  have  afforded  them  all  the  nails  and  iron  necessary. 
But  the  same  lack  of  enterprise  which  General  Howe  exhib- 
ited when' he  allowed  the  escape  from  Long  Island,  and  the 
halts  at  Brunswick  and  at  Princeton,  was  repeated  at  Tren- 
ton, and  gave  the  Americans  the  opportunity. 

Joseph  Galloway,  a  Tory,  who  appears  to  have  spent  a  few 
days  about  this  time  at  the  house  of  Major  John  Barnes,  on 
Queen  street,  near  the  Assunpink  Creek,  in  Trenton,  said, 
when  examined  before  the  House  of  Commons  by  Lord  Ger- 
main and  others  on  June  i8,  1779:  "At  Captain  Montres- 
sor's  request,  I  did  inquire  whether  there  were  any  materials 
in  or  about  Trenton  with  which  pontoons,  boats,  or  rafts 
might  be  constructed  ;  and  I  found  48,000  feet  of  boards,  a 
quantity  of  wire,  and  there  was  timber  enough  about  Tren- 
ton for  that  purpose.  No  boats  were  brought  from  the 
Raritan  River,  as  the  Americans  feared  and  anticipated. 
Nor  does  it  appear  that  the  work  of  building  boats  or  rafts 
was  ever  begun."  ^ 

1  The  Abb^  Raynal,  in  his  History  of  the  Revolution  of  America., 
truthfully  remarks  in  reference  to  the  proper  conduct  of  the  British  at 
this  time :  "  Without  losing  a  moment,  the  king's  troops  ought  to  have 


But  General  Howe  was  proud  of  the  manner  in  which  he 
had  driven  the  rebels  out  of  the  State. 

His  dispatches  show  that  it  was  no  part  of  his  plan  in  this 
campaign  to  cross  the  Delaware  River.  He  seems  to  have 
concluded  that-  he  had  had  enough  glory  for  this  year,  and, 
"  the  weather  having  become  too  severe  to  keep  the  field," 
he  had  thought  it  better  to  spread  a  portion  of  the  royal 
army  over  the  State,  and  thus  occupy  the  territory  so  easily 
conquered.  As  citizens  and  soldiers  he  regarded  the  colo- 
nists with  the  utmost  contempt,  and  by  billeting  his  troops 
upon  the  people  he  thought  to  stop  all  efforts  to  obtain  re- 
cruits in  New  Jersey  for  the  new  army  of  next  year.  In 
this  way,  unless  ice  formed  on  the  river,  he  proposed,  to 
remain  in  winter  quarters  until  the  opening  of  a  new  season, 
and  then  commence  an  active  and  final  campaign. 

General  Howe  ordered  that  a  number  of  cantonments  in 
New  Jersey  be  formed  immediately  in  the  counties  of  Essex, 
Middlesex,  Somerset,  Hunterdon  and  Burlington.  General 
Cornwallis  rashly  arranged  a  thin  line  of  military  posts  at 
Elizabeth  Town,  Brunswick,  Princeton,  Trenton  and  Bor- 
dentown,  the  last  two  composed  principally  of  Hessian 
troops.  These  stations,  however,  were  too  far  apart  to  sup- 
port one  another  effectually  in  case  of  attack.  Howe  says  : 
"  My  first  intentions  were  to  have  made  Brunswick  the  left 
and  Elizabeth  Town  or  Newark  the  right  of  these  canton- 
ments ;  and  my  reason  for  extending  to  Trenton  was  that  a 
considerable  number  of  inhabitants  came  in  with  their  arms 
in  obedience  to  the  proclamation  of  commissioners  on  30th 
of  November." 

The  frontier  posts,  then  in  the  very  face  of  the  American 

passed  the  river  in  pursuit  of  the  handful  of  fugitives,  and  have  put 
them  totally  to  the  rout.  If  the  five  thousand  men,  destined  for  the 
conquest  of  Rhode  Island,  had  gone  up  the  river  in  the  transports  they 
were  aboard  of,  the  junction  of  the  two  corps  might  have  been  effected 
without  opposition  even  in  Philadelphia  itself,  and  the  new  republic 
had  been  stifled  in  that  important  and  celebrated  city  which  gave  it 


army,  were  garrisoned  by  German  officers  and  soldiers,  who 
were  ignorant  of  the  character  and  language  of  the  people, 
and  who  could  not  therefore  judge  rightly  of  any  information 
brought  them.  It  seems  strange  that  a  part  of  the  Hessian 
contingent  should  have  been  given  so  important  a  position. 
The  only  reason  is  that  these  troops  were  placed  by  order 
on  the  left  of  the  column,  and  thus  the  duty  fell  to  them  to 
hold  the  left  of  the  chain  of  cantonments.  To  substitute 
other  troops  might,  as  General  Howe  said,  "have  created 
jealousies  between  the  Hessian  and  British  troops,  which  it 
was  my  duty  carefully  to  prevent." 

These  Hessian  soldiers,  whose  services  had  been  pur- 
chased, who  were  fighting  for  hire,  were  uncouth  in  manners, 
low  in  morals,  but  well  trained  in  military  duties,  and  familiar 
with  war  and  violence.  They  cared  little  on  which  side  their 
services  were  rendered. 

But  to  maintain  her  authority  in  the  colonies,  England 
had  either  to  send  new  levies  of  her  own  soldiers,  distasteful 
though  the  war  might  be  to  them,  or  purchase  the  brains 
and  courage  of  some  other  nation.  She  found  a  market 
among  the  petty  princes  of  Germany,  where  the  articles  were 
obtain  able  for  thirty  crowns  banco,  equal  to  jE,"]  4s.  4-|d.  for 
each  soldier.  Negotiations  were  commenced  with  Fred- 
erick II.,  Landgrave  of  Hesse-Cassel ;  Frederick,  Prince  of 
Waldeck ;  Charles  I.,  Duke  of  Brunswick ;  William,  Count 
of  Hesse-Hanau ;  Frederick  Augustus,  Prince  of  Anhalt- 
Zerbst,  and  Charles  Alexander,  Margrave  of  Anspach-Bey- 
reuth ;  and  from  these  potentates  England  received  nearly 
30,000  men,  with  which  she  proposed  to  conquer  Amer- 
icans struggling  for  independence.  Before  the  troops 
were  sent  the  agreement  was  confirmed  with  the  minister 
of  Brunswick  that  three  wounded  men  should  count  as  one 
dead  man,  and  that  every  man  killed  must  be  paid  for  as 
one  newly  mustered.  Lord  Mahon,  in  his  "History  of 
England,"  says  Frederick  the  Great  was  so  disgusted  with 
what  he  called  "scandalous  man-traffic,"  that,  whenever 
the  Hessians  passed  through  his  dominions,  he  claimed  the 


same  toll  per  head  as  for  cattle ;  for  he  contended  they 
had  been  sold  "as  one  sells  cattle  to  be  dragged  to  the 
shambles."  ^ 

Before  the  first  division  of  these  Hessians  had  reached 
the  shores  of  America,  the  Continental  Congress  had  pro- 
mulgated this  announcement  concerning  them  in  the  Decla- 
ration of  Independence  :  "  He  is,  at  this  time,  transporting 
large  armies  of  foreign  mercenaries  to  complete  the  works 
of  death,  desolation,  and  tyranny,  already  begun,  with  circum- 
stances of  cruelty  and  perfidy  scarcely  paralleled  in  the  most 
barbarous  ages,  and  totally  unworthy  the  head  of  a  civilized 

At  Trenton  were  stationed  three  regiments  of  Hessian 
infantry,  a  detachment  of  artillery,  fifty  Hessian  yagers,  and 
twenty  light  dragoons  of  the  Sixteenth  British  regiment,  — 
in  all  about  1400  men  in  and  around  the  town.     This  force 

'  Lord  Camden  said  in  the  Britisli  House  of  Lords,  March  15,  1776: 
"  Is  there  one  of  your  lordships  who  does  not  perceive  most  clearly  that 
the  whole  is  a  mere  mercenary  bargain  for  the  hire  of  troops  on  the  one 
side  and  the  sale  of  human  blood  on  the  other ;  and  that  the  devoted 
wretches  thus  purchased  for  slaughter  are  mere  mercenaries  in  the 
worst  sense  of  the  word?"  To  increase  their  coffers,  filled  now  "with 
blood  and  tears,"  and  to  enable  them  with  more  splendor  to  support 
the  coarse  luxuries  of  a  sensual  court,  these  petty  princes  kidnapped 
their  poor  subjects  in  the  fields,  in  their  shops,  and  even  in  their 
churches,  and  forced  them  into  the  conscription.  Yet  the  slaves  of 
these  despots  are  the  men  whom  we  find  throughout  the  war  fighting 
for  the  British  crown,  and  dying  as  Colonel  von  Donop  said  he  died, — 
"  a  victim  of  my  ambition  and  the  avarice  of  my  sovereign."  —  Parlia- 
mentary History  of  England,  vol.  xviii.,  London,  1813. 

^  The  dress  of  the  Hessian  soldier  is  carefully  described  in  Dunlap's 
History  of  the  American  Theatre:  "A  towering  brass-fronted  cap; 
moustaches  colored  with  the  same  material  that  colored  his  shoes,  his 
hair  plastered  with  tallow  and  flour,  and  tightly  drawn  into  a  long 
appendage  reaching  from  the  back  of  the  head  to  his  waist ;  his  blue 
uniform  almost  covered  by  the  broad  belts  sustaining  his  cartouch  box, 
his  brass-hilted  sword,  and  his  bayonet;  a  yellow  waistcoat  with  flaps, 
and  yellow  breeches,  were  met  at  the  knee  by  black  gaiters ;  and  thus 
heavily  equipped  he  stood  an  automaton,  and  received  the  command  or 
cane  of  the  officer  who  inspected  him." 



was  under  the  command 
of  Colonel  Johann  Gott- 
lieb Rail/  as  senior  offi- 
cer of  the  brigade,  who 
was  given  the  command 
of  the  post  in  return  for 
his  gallant  conduct  at  the 
battle  of  White  Plains 
and  at  the  assault  on 
Fort  Washington.  The 
three  regiments  of  infan- 
try, one  of  them  having 
six  grenadier  companies, 
the  other  consisting  of 
five  fusilier  companies 
and  one  grenadier  com- 
pany each,  were  those 
designated  Rail,  von 
Knyphausen,  and  von 
Lossberg.  The  first  two 
regiments  came  down 
with  the  main  army  and 
went     into    quarters    at 

Trenton  December  12  ;  but  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  was 
detained  at  Newark,  then  at  Brunswick,  where  it  was  relieved 
by  the  Waldeck  regiment,  and  again  detained  at  Princeton, 
so  it  was  unable  to  join   the    brigade   at  Trenton   until  the 


1  The  name  of  Colonel  Rail  has  been  given  by  various  historians  in 
many  different  forms.  General  Washington  always  wrote  it  Tft?///.  John 
I\Iarshall,  in  his  Life  of  ll'as/iington,  spells  the  name  Rawle.  Jared 
Sparks  and  Dr.  David  Ramsey  give  us  Rahl.  Sergeant  R.  Lamb,  in 
his  book  of  Occiirrenccs  during  the  War,  and  Mrs.  Mercy  Warren  say 
Rhal.  Captain  Hall  of  the  Forty-sixth  regiment  of  British  foot,  in  his 
History  of  the  Civil  War  in  America,  writes  Railcj  and  General  Sir 
William  Howe,  Raille;  the  Rev.  Dr.  William  Gordon  speaks  of  him 
as  Roll;  Charles  Botta  refers  to  him  as  Ralle ;  and  Charles  Stedman, 
the  British  military  writer,  alludes  to  the  Hessian  soldier  as  Rhalle. 
His  own  autograph  shows  that  he  wrote  his  name  Rail.     See  p.  24. 


morning  of  December  14,  when  Colonel  Rail  established 
his  headquarters  in  that  village. 

It  was  General  Howe's  plan  to  make  Trenton  one  of  the 
military  posts,  and  not  to  dignify  it  by  the  name  of  a  "  head- 
quarters," or  put  so  large  a  force  in  the  village,  but  these 
men  had  been  promised  good  winter  quarters,  and  even  Tren- 
ton did  not  satisfy  them,  When  Major  von  Hanstein  came 
into  Trenton  with  his  tired  men,  in  the  scanty  uniform  of 
the  von  Lossberg  regiment,  he  asked  Colonel  Rail  if  these 
were  the  "good  quarters"  which  had  been  promised  them. 
Rail  replied,  "  No,  but  we  will  have  them  soon  in  Philadel- 
phia." To  increase  the  honors  and  influence  of  Colonel  Rail, 
General  Howe  ordered  him  to  open  a  headquarters  in  this 
important  town. 

It  may  be  noted,  when  referring  to  the  names  by  which 
these  regiments  were  called,  that  it  was  the  custom,  at  that 
time,  in  the  English  and  German  armies,  as  well  as  among 
the  troops  of  the  Landgrave  of  Hesse,  to  call  an  organization 
of  this  character  by  the  name  of  its  commanding  officer,  or 
by  the  name  of  a  general  or  a  prince.  This  they  continued 
to  do  for  years  after  the  colonel  had  been  promoted  to  a 
generalship,  or  the  prince  or  the  general  had  died.  The 
custom  still  prevails  at  the  present  day  in  the  army  of  Great 
Britain,  as  well  as  in  the  battalions  of  the  German  Empire.^ 

The  original  strength  of  each  of  the  Hessian  regiments 
sent'  to  America  was  21  officers,  60  sergeants,  5  surgeons, 
22  musicians,  and  525  rank  and  file. 

It  was  determined  that  a  post  of  about  1500  men  should 
be  organized  at  Bordentown,  six  miles  below  Trenton.  Two 
hours  before  daylight  on  the  nth  of  December,  Colonel  von 
Donop  left  Trenton  with  several  officers  and  a  detachment 
of  four  or  five  hundred  troops,  passed  over  the  drawbridge 
at  Crosswicks  Creek,  and  proceeded  to  Bordentown.  As 
they  advanced,  the  patriot  militia  of  Burlington  County 
broke  down  the  bridges,  but  the  enemy  succeeded  in  reach- 
ing Bordentown,  and  then  proceeded  to  Bustleton.     Pursu- 

1  For  names  of  field  officers  of  these  regiments  see  Part  ii.  No.  4. 



ing  a  little  party  of  American  riflemen  who  had  crossed  the 
ri\'er  below  Bordentown  for  the  purpose  of  scouting,  they 
came,  about  two  o'clock  in  the  morning,  to  the  York  bridge 
over  the  Assiscunk  Creek.  The  Americans  eluded  further 
pursuit  b}'  recrossing  the  ri\'er  to  Bristol,  Hearing  that 
Colonel  von  Donop  and  the  Hessian  troops  were  approach- 
ing, John  Lawrence,  the  mayor  of  the  town,  with  two  or 
three  other  prominent  citizens,  went  out  on  the  old  York  road 
to  meet  them  and  to  plead  for  the  safety  of  the  village  and 
its  inhabitants.  John  Lawrence  was  a  man  of  some  distinc- 
tion in  his  time ;  and  in  after  years  his  son,  James  Lawrence, 
captain  in  the  United  States  navy,  became  famous  as  the 
hero  of  the  Chesapeake,  and  his  dying  shout,  "  Don't  give 
up   the   ship,"  has   rendered   his   name  the  ideal  of  Amer- 



tX^f*:^.- -^'-   .^,-^<  ^^y■^'■'■-'iyy'^^^,^.'yS'^'^'^^y^•'^^ 

■^-  Jif  .y 

Origi}Lal  ill  I'osscssion  of  A  jdhor 


ican  heroism.  It  is  not  stated  in  history  nor  in  that  singular 
diary  of  Margaret  Morris,  the  Quakeress,  that  John  Law- 
rence was  in  any  way  charged,  as  she  was,  with  Toryism,  but 
the  rector  of  St.  Mary's  Church  at  Burlington,  the  Rev. 
Jonathan  Odell,  who  was  also  a  practicing  physician,  and 
who  accompanied  the  mayor  for  the  purpose  of  speaking 
French  to  Colonel  von  Donop,  was  a  loyalist  of  extreme 
views,  and  so  a  suitable  man  for  this  embassy.  On  October 
i8,  1775,  the  Provincial  Congress  of  New  Jersey  had  discov- 
ered that  Mr.  Odell  had  written  two  very  un-American  letters. 
His  case  had  been  considered  with  great  care,  but  at  that 
time  Congress  had  declined  to  pass  public  censure  against 
him.  On  the  20th  of  the  next  July,  however,  the  county 
committee  of  Burlington  was  ordered  to  take  his  parole  to 
confine  himself  on  the  east  side  of  the  river  and  within  a 
radius  of  eight  miles  from  his  residence — because,  as  they 
said,  he  was  "  a  person  suspected  of  being  inimical  to  Amer- 
ican liberty."  He  accompanied  Sir  Henry  Clinton,  the  Brit- 
ish commander-in-chief,  when  he  returned  to  England  in 
November,  1783,  at  the  close  of  the  war.i  The  Burlington 
County  committee  told  Colonel  von  Donop  that  if  he  brought 
his  force  into  Burlington,  they  probably  would  have  to  sub- 
mit to  a  cannonade  from  the  vessels  of  the  American  fleet 
lying  in  the  Delaware  River,  near  the  town.  Colonel  von 
Donop  urged  the  deputation  to  see  the  commander  of  the 
fleet,  and,  leaving  his  troops  near  the  bridge,  he  entered 
the  town  himself  with  some  of  his  staff  officers  and  a  small 
guard.  It  was  agreed  with  the  Burlington  committee  that 
these  men  should  receive  quarters  and  refreshments,  and 
that  no  one  in  the  village  should  conceal  arms  or  ammuni- 
tion, under  threat  of  pillage  by  the  Hessians.  Then  the  offi- 
cers went  to  the  house  of  Mayor  Lawrence,  dined  at  his 
table,  and  waited  there  for  Commodore  Thomas  Seymour's 

^  Hills's  History  of  the  Church  in  Burlington,  p.  315  ;  Force's  Amer- 
ican Archives,  fourth  series,  vol.  vi.  p.  165 1  ;  Tyler's  Literary  History 
of  the  American  Revolution,  vol.  ii.  p.  103  ;  Private  Journal  of  Mar- 
garet Morris  of  Burlington,  p.  8. 


answer  to  the  delegation.  Being  on  shore  at  the  time,  Cap- 
tain Thomas  Moore,  one  of  the  officers  of  the  armed  boat 
Hancock,  accompanied  the  party.  The  wind  was  blowing 
very  hard,  and  it  was  with  great  difficulty  that  the  delega- 
tion reached  the  flagship,  which  was  some  distance  down 
the  river.  While  they  were  on  their  way  to  this  vessel, 
some  of  the  men  in  the  gondolas  saw  the  Hessian  guards 
pacing  the  streets  of  Burlington,  and  fire  was  opened  in- 
stantly on  the  town.  Hearing  this,  the  mayor  and  William 
Dillwyn,  another  prominent  citizen  of  the  place,  went  down 
the  main  street  to  the  wharf,  and  waved  their  hats  to  the 
boats  for  the  sailors  to  cease  firing,  but  they,  too,  were  fired 
upon.  Then  Colonel  von  Donop  and  his  officers  left  the 
table,  and  went  toward  the  river  to  make  observations  of 
the  state  of  affairs,  but  they  were  seen,  and  the  cannonade 
up  Main,  now  High  street,  and  along  the  river  bank,  now 
Delaware  street,  was  continued  all  the  afternoon.  Several 
houses  of  the  citizens  were  struck,  but  no  one  was  injured. 
It  is  said  many  of  the  people  hid  in  their  cellars  during  the 
firing.  When  Captain  Moore  and  the  delegation  had  reached 
the  commodore's  vessel,  they  fpund  that  he  had  already 
ordered  four  galleys  up  to  the  town  with  orders  to  fire  on  it 
if  any  Hessians  were  seen.  Seymour  told  the  committee 
from  Burlington  that  if  the  Hessian  troops  quartered  them- 
selves in  that  town,  he  would  have  no  mercy  on  the  place, 
but  would  immediately  open  on  it  with  all  his  guns.  The 
delegation  promptly  reported  this  threat  to  Colonel  von 
Donop,  and  as  he  had  no  heavy  guns  with  which  to  reply  to 
the  fleet,  and  had  discovered  that  some  of  the  residents 
were  loyalists,  he  thought  it  prudent  to  withdraw  from  Bur- 
lington. This  he  did,  and  marched  his  men  back  to  Bustle- 
ton,  where  they  spent  the  night.  On  the  next  morning, 
December  12,  some  of  the  men  from  the  gondolas  came 
into  Burlington,  and  told  the  people  that  they  intended  to 
burn  the  town,  for  they  suspected  that  the  Hessians  were 
concealed  there.  These  men  remained  in  the  village  until 
the  night  of  December  17,  when  Captain  Shippin,  who  was 


afterward  killed  at  the  battle  of  Princeton,  took  all  the  men 
back  to  the  vessels,  and  the  town  became  quiet.  In  the 
meantime  Colonel  von  Donop  had  marched  his  men  to  Bor- 
dentown,  and  having  placed  there  a  detachment  of  yagers, 
under  special  orders  to  prevent  the  inhabitants  from  remov- 
ing goods  and  provisions,  and  his  own  men  from  plundering 
the  houses,  he  returned  to  Trenton. 

On  the  13th  of  December  General  Howe  informed  Colo- 
nel von  Donop  ^  that  he  would  place  him  in  command  of  the 
two  Hessian  brigades,  — his  own  and  that  of  Colonel  Rail,  with 
all  the  yagers,  dragoons  and  artillerists  attached.  He  also 
assigned  him  winter  quarters  at  Bordentown,  and  ordered  a 
strong  body  of  troops  to  report  to  him  there.  The  Forty- 
second  British  regiment  (known  as  the  Royal  Highland  regi- 
ment, and  sometimes  called  the  "  Highland  Watch  "),  one  of 
the  best  organizations  in  the  service,  and  under  the  command 
of  Lieutenant-Colonel  Thomas  Sterling,  a  fine  officer,  was 
ordered  to  this  cantonment.  There  were  also  three  battal- 
ions of  Hessians,  —  the  grenadier  battalions  von  Linsingen, 
von  Block  and  von  Minnigerode.  Also  attached  to  these 
organizations  were  the  second  company  of  Hessian  yagers. 
Captain  Johann  Ewald  in  command,  a  detachment  of  Hessian 
artillery  with  six  three-pounders,  and  one  company  of  British 
artillery  with  two  six-pounders  and  two  three-pounders. 

The  Hessian  grenadier  battalion  von  Koehler  with  four 
eighteen-pounders  was  ordered  from  New  York  to  join  Colo- 
nel von  Donop  at  Bordentown,  coming  by  vessel  to  Amboy, 
and  then  marching  across  the  State,  but  it  did  not  join  him 
before  he  broke  up  his  cantonment. 

Colonel  von  Donop  also  directed  that  Captain  Georg  Hein- 
rich  Pauli,  an  engineer  officer,  should  remain  with  Colonel 

1  The  commander  of  the  grenadiers,  Colonel  Carl  Emil  Kurt  von 
Donop,  belonged  to  the  second  division  of  the  Hessian  troops.  Colonel 
von  Donop  was  one  of  the  bravest  and  most  cultured  officers  of  the 
Hessian  soldiery.  He  was  mortally  wounded,  October  22,  1777,  at  the 
battle  of  Red  Bank  on  the  Delaware  River.  For  copies  of  orders  to 
Colonel  von  Donop,  and  to  Colonel  Rail,  see  Part  ii.  Nos.  5  and  6. 


Rail  for  a  few  days  to  point  out  where  redoubts  should  be 
erected  for  the  protection  of  the  post  of  Trenton.  He  then 
(December  14)  marched  to  his  winter  post  at  Borden  town 
with  the  troops  assigned  him.  It  was  von  Donop's  intention 
to  order  the  Forty-second  regiment,  British  foot,  and  the 
grenadier  battalion  von  Block  to  the  post  of  Burlington,  but 
finding  that  the  town  was  under  American  guns,  he  thought 
it  prudent  to  delay  the  occupation  until  the  heavy  artillery 
should  come  from  Amboy  with  the  battalion  von  Koehler. 
The  two  organizations  referred  to  were  temporarily  ordered 
to  Black  Horse,  Burlington  County,  a  village  now  known  as 
Columbus.  One  company  of  yagers,  consisting  of  one  offi- 
cer and  thirty  men,  was  ordered  to  post  itself  about  two 
miles  north  of  Bordentown,  on  the  road  to  Trenton,  and 
another  detachment  in  a  mill  a  short  distance  south  of  Bor- 
dentown, on  the  river. 

On  the  day  that  these  Hessian  battalions  took  post  at 
Bordentown,  Captain  Henry  Miller,  who  belonged  to  Colonel 
Edward  Hand's  Pennsylvania  riflemen,  and  who  had  been  in 
New  Jersey  with  a  small  scouting  party,  reported  having 
met  and  received  the  fire  of  von  Donop's  advance.  The 
soldiers  were  quartered  in  farmers'  houses  in  Burlington 
County  in  squads  of  ten  to  fifteen,  much  to  the  annoyance 
of  a  community  of  Quakers  peculiarly  averse  to  war.  The 
vivacious  Highlander  in  his  kilt  and  tartan,  his  low  checkered 
bonnet,  and  many  colored  stockings,  was  in  strong  contrast 
to  the  dull,  phlegmatic  German  in  his  sombre  uniform.  But 
the  Germans  were  the  first  to  commence  a  pillage  upon  the 
inhabitants,  friend  and  foe  alike.  They  took  possession  of 
every  article  they  desired,  under  the  spirit  of  the  orders 
which  von  Donop  had  received  from  Howe. 

All  the  assignments  which  have  just  been  stated  were  made 
by  General  Howe,  who  regarded  the  party  around  General 
Washington  with  utter  contempt,  and  was  confident  of  his 
ability  to  hold  possession  of  these  widely  scattered  posts. 
This  arrangement  of  numerous  unsupported  cantonments 
reflected  no  credit  upon  his  generalship. 


Major-General  James  Grant,  baronet,  of  Ballendallock, 
and  colonel  of  the  Fifty-fifth  regiment  of  British  foot,i  was 
placed  in  command  of  all  the  troops  in  New  Jersey,  and 
stationed  with  the  strongest  body  of  soldiers  at  Brunswick, 
whither  all  the  supplies  for  the  army  were  sent  and  from 
there  distributed. 

General  Howe,  accompanied  by  General  Cornwallis,  left 
Trenton  December  13,  and  returned  to  resume,  for  the  win- 
ter, his  life  of  ease  at  his  headquarters  in  New  York.  They 
both  thought  that  the  capture  of  Philadelphia  might  occur 
at  any  time,  and  that,  if  it  was  deemed  necessary,  the  city 
could  be  immediately  taken,  as  the  rebel  army  would  soon  be 
disbanded.  So  impressed  were  they  with  this  idea  that  Lord 
Cornwallis  obtained  a  leave  of  absence  to  visit  his  home  in 
England.  He  then  made  every  arrangement  to  sail  at  an 
early  date,  and  had  his  baggage  placed  on  the  packet  vessel, 
confidently  expecting  to  give  the  king  the  cheering  informa- 
tion of  the  final  collapse  of  the  feeble  rebellion  against  his 

On  December  15  Colonel  von  Donop  ordered  the  gren- 
adier battalion  von  Linsingen  to  take  post  half  way  between 
Black  Horse  and  Bordentown,  at  a  little  place  known  as 

1  This  is  the  same  General  Grant  whom  Lord  Stiriing  of  the  Amer- 
ican army  heard  declare,  in  the  English  House  of  Commons,  February 
2,  1775,  "  that  the  Americans  could  not  fight,  and  that  he  would  under- 
take to  march  from  one  end  of  the  continent  to  the  other  with  five  thou- 
sand men." 

^  At  this  time  the  following  orders  were  issued  :  "  Headquarters,  De- 
cember 14,  1776.  The  Campaign  having  closed  with  the  Pursuit  of 
the  Enemies  Army  near  ninety  Miles  by  Lieut.  Gen.  Cornwallis's  Corps, 
much  to  the  honor  of  his  Lordship  and  the  Officers  and  Soldiers  under 
his  Command,  The  Approach  of  Winter  putting  a  Stop  to  any  further 
Progress,  the  Troops  will  immediately  march  into  Quarters  and  hold 
themselves  in  Readiness  to  assemble  on  the  shortest  Notice. 

"  The  Commander-in-Chief  calls  upon  the  Commanding  Ofiicers  of 
Corps  to  exert  themselves  in  preserving  the  greatest  Regularity  and 
strictest  Discipline  in  their  respective  Quarters,  particularly  attending 
to  the  Protection  of  Inhabitants  and  their  Property  in  their  several 

\'0N    DONOP'S    WARINESS  4r, 

Mansfield  Square.  A  report  had  reached  him  at  noon  that 
General  Putnam  had  come  up  from  Philadelphia  in  the  direc- 
tion of  Mount  Holl)'  with  a  force  of  3000  rebels.  He  im- 
mediately sent  out  a  detachment  of  200  grenadiers  and 
mounted  yag'crs  to  ascertain  the  truth  of  the  report.     The}- 


were  unable  to  find  the  xVmerican  column,  and  reported  to 
that  effect.  During  the  day  Major  Nichols,'  crossing  the 
river  from  Bristol,  came  up  from  Burlington  to  Bordentown 
for  the  purpose  of  making  an  exchange  of  prisoners.  Colo- 
nel von  Donop's  criticism  of  this  officer  in  his  report  is  very 

The  next  day  Colonel  \'on  Donop  wrote  to  General  Leslie 
at  Princeton  and  to  General  Grant  letters  giving  in  detail 
the  events  of  the  preceding  day.^ 

1  Probably  Major  Francis  NichoLs,  Ninth  Penn.sylvania  Continental 
regiment.  This  oiificer  is  often  alluded  to  in  the  documents  connected 
with  the  "  Reed  Controversy." 

2  For  these  letters  see  Part  ii.  Nos.  7  and  8. 


On  December  17  the  "express  riders''  between  Borden- 
town  and  Brunswick  must  have  been  particularly  active. 
Very  early  that  morning  Colonel  von  Donop  wrote  as  follows 
to  General  Grant  at  Brunswick  :  — 

"In  accordance  with  my  communication  of  yesterday,  I 
have  the  honour  to  advise  you,  my  General,  that  the  patrol 
has  been  sent  out  and  has  seen  nothing  of  the  enemy.  They 
found  near  the  bridge  between  Mount  Holly  and  Moores- 
town  a  quantity  of  cannon-ball  and  shells  which  they  threw 
into  the  water.  According  to  the  reports  of  the  country 
people  the  enemy  must  be  at  Cooper's  Creek  with  a  force  of 
4000  men  and  General  Putnam  who  commands  them  must 
be  busy  in  collecting  stores.  If  I  did  not  know  that  the 
heavy  artillery  were  to  arrive  to-day  or  to-morrow  I  would 
be  very  desirous  of  marching  with  the  three  battalions  and 
making  a  call  on  Mister  General  Putnam.  I  will  follow  out 
your  orders  on  this  subject  as  soon  as  possible.  Yesterday 
evening  a  farmer  came  to  say  that  General  Washington  had 
crossed  the  river  at  Vessels'  Ferry  with  a  large  force  on  the 
right  flank  of  Colonel  Rail  for  the  purpose  of  uniting  with 
the  corps  of  General  Lee.  This  man  however  has  disap- 
peared after  telling  his  story  to  the  Mayor  of  Burlington. 
If  this  news  is  true  the  troops  which  have  crossed  must  be 
the  corps  of  General  Stirhng,  who  has  his  quarters  at  Beau- 
monts  about  two  miles  above  the  ferry.  The  six  chasseurs 
who  were  lately  driven  from  the  house  near  the  river  at 
Trenton  were  again  attacked  yesterday  morning  by  a  detach- 
ment of  the  enemy  which  crossed  in  three  boats  under  the 
protection  of  the  eighteen  pounders  in  their  batteries.  We 
were  not  able  to  prevent  them  from  landing  and  were  obliged 

"TO    DRIVE    PUTNAM"  51 

to  retire  until  Colonel  Rail  brought  up  a  force  to  their  assist- 
ance. After  this  the  rascals  went  off  taking  away  as  their 
only  prize  a  pig  which  had  j  ust  been  killed  by  the  chasseurs. 
The  two  gondolas  which  came  near  me  here  and  which  I 
made  mention  of  yesterday,  I  believe  have  gone  down  the 
river  again  to  await  me  at  Burlington.  I  have  the  honour 
to  send  you  two  orders  issued  by  General  Putnam.  It  is 
evident  we  will  have  to  make  a  siege  of  it.  .  .  . 

"At  this  moment  I  have  just  received  the  news  that  Colo- 
nel Rail  sent  yesterday  evening  a  patrol  of  six  dragoons  to 
Pennington,  which  has  not  yet  returned  and  one  of  these 
dragoons  has  been  seen  ten  miles  from  Trenton  mortally 

This  letter  was  received  by  General  Grant  the  same  day, 
and  he  immediately  made  this  reply :  — 

"Brunswick  17th  Dec.  1776.  I  have  just  received  your 
report  of  this  Days  date,  that  of  yesterday  has  not  reached 
me.  The  General  set  out  this  morning  for  New  York. 
Your  fourth  Battalion  of  Grenadiers  is  still  at  this  place. 
You  shall  be  informed  when  they  march  from  South  Amboy 
with  the  heavy  artillery,  but  you  need  not  expect  them  for 
some  days,  and  you  will  have  time  enough  before  their  arri- 
val if  you  think  proper  to  drive  Putnam  from  Cooper's  Creek 
and  put  a  stop  to  his  carrying  off  the  Magazines  for  I  am 
sure  there  is  no  Rebel  force  on  this  Side  the  Delaware, 
which  will  attempt  to  stand  before  hessian  Grenadiers  under 
your  command. 

"  I  can  hardly  believe  that  Washington  would  venture  at 
this  season  of  the  year  to  pass  the  Delaware  at  Vessels 
Ferry,^  as  the  repassing  it  may  on  account  of  the  ice  be- 
come difficult.  I  should  rather  think  that  Lee's  Corps  has 
proceeded  to  Philadelphia,  for  we  have  heard  nothing  of 
them,  since  Lee  was  made  Prisoner,  and  prior  to  that  the 
Intention  was  to  march  to  East-Town  in  order  to  cross  the 

1  The  ferry  which  afterward  became  known  as  McKonkey's  Ferry. 


"  Putnam's  Hand  Bills  and  Lee's  account  ^  differ  exceed- 
ingly about  the  Intention  of  the  Rebels  with  regard  to  Phila- 
delphia. For  Lee  declares  that  they  are  determined  to  burn 
the  Town,  if  they  cannot  prevent  its  falling  into  our  Hands. 
General  Matthew  marched  this  morning  to  Plackhemin 
where  he  fell  in  with  a  small  body  of  rebels  ;  they  fled  on  his 
Approach  —  he  has  taken  a  few  prisoners  —  some  Arms  and 
stores,  his  Guide  was  wounded  in  the  foot,  that  was  all  the 
Loss  we  sustained.  General  Leslie  marched  this  morning  to 
Springfield  and  is  to  proceed  from  thence  by  Bound-Brook 
to  Prince  Town.  I  have  had  no  report  from  him,  indeed 
cannot  expect  it  till  to-morrow. 

"Lieut.  Col.  Mawhood  likewise  marched  this  morning  by 
Hillsborough  towards  Flemingtown,  he  is  not  yet  returned. 
When  you  send  a  Light  Dragoon  from  Trenton,  the  Letter 
should  be  forwarded  to  me  from  Princetown,  where  your 
Dragoon  should  remain  to  carry  back  my  answer  from 
Princetown  to  Trenton,  by  that  means  the  conveyance  will 
be  quicker  and  the  Dragoons  less  fatigued.  I  will  write  to 
General  Leslie  to  observe  this  rule  in  future.  After  you  get 
the  iS  pounders,  the  rebel  Gondolas  will  not  remain  long  at 
Burlington  and  if  the  Frost  continues  they  will  not  wait  even 
this  Event." 

It  will  be  seen  that  the  false  report  of  the  crossing  of  a 
large  detachment  of  Washington's  army  at  Vessels'  Ferry 
had  reached  the  Hessian  commanding  officers,  and  they 
were  anxious  to  determine  the  truth  of  the  statement.  Gen- 
eral Grant  did  not  beheve  that  there  was  any  large  force  on 
the  Jersey  side  of  the  river  ;  and  even  if  there  were  he  was 
disposed  to  think  lightly  of  any  troops  which  the  foe  could 
bring  against  the  trained  battalions  under  his  charge. 

Colonel  Rail,  too,  was  curious  to  know  what  was  going  on 
around  him,  and  that  same  day  (December  17)  he  seems  to 
have  specially  exerted  himself  to  obtain  information.^ 

'  It  would  appear  that  General  Lee  was  even  in  1776  expressing  his 
opinion  and  giving  information  to  the  enemy. 

2  See  letters.  Rail  and  von  Donop,  Part  ii.  Nos.  12  and  13. 


Early  in  the  morning  of  December  16  a  little  scouting 
party  of  the  Americans  crossed  the  river  at  Trenton  Ferry, 
as  stated  in  Colonel  Rail's  letter  of  the  following  day.i 
Having  so  successfully  stirred  up  the  post  on  the  first  occa- 
sion, the  temptation  to  do  it  once  more  was  irresistible. 

Colonel  Rail  again  wrote  to  Colonel  von  Donop,  giving 
him  the  news  at  Trenton  up  to  December  18,^  reporting 
affairs  between  scouting  parties,  —  a  service  conducted  with 
great  activity  on  the  American  side. 

To  return  to  the  American  army  in  camp  on  the  Pennsyl- 
vania side  of  the  Delaware  River.  General  Washington  still 
wondered  why  General  Charles  Lee  did  not  join  him  as 
directed.  Requests  by  letter,  written  in  the  most  pressing 
terms,  and  direct  orders  by  messengers,  seemed  alike  inef- 
fectual to  hasten  his  march.  All  dispatches  appeared  to  be 
unheeded,  and  although  it  was  known  that  he  had  crossed 
the  Hudson  River  even  as  late  as  December  4,  and  that  he 
was  now  on  the  march,  yet  his  progress  seemed  slow  indeed 
to  the  commander-in-chief. 

On  December  i  Washington  wrote  these  urgent  words  to 
Lee  from  Brunswick :  ^  "  The  enemy  are  advancing  and 
have  got  as  far  as  Woodbridge  and  Amboy,  and  from  infor- 
mation not  to  be  doubted  they  mean  to  push  for  Philadel- 
phia. The  force  I  have  with  me  is  infinitely  inferior  in  num- 
bers and  such  as  cannot  give  or  promise  the  least  successful 
opposition.  .  I  must  entreat  you  to  hasten  your  march  as 
much  as  possible  or  your  arrival  may  be  too  late  to  answer 
any  valuable  purpose." 

On  December  7  Washington  had  dispatched  from  Tren- 
ton Major  Robert  Hoops,  brigade  major  on  the  staff  of  Bri- 
gadier-General Philemon  Dickinson,  to  urge  General  Lee  to 
hasten  his  march  and  to  inform  him  that  boats  had  been  pro- 
vided to  transport  his  men  across  the  river  at  what  was  then 
known  as  Tinicum  Ferry.     And  again  (December  10)  Wash- 

1  Part  ii.  No.  12. 

2  Part  ii.  No.  14. 

3  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  62. 


ington  appealed  to  him  :  ^  "  Do  come  on,  your  arrival  may  be 
happy,  and,  if  it  can  be  effected  without  delay,  it  may  be  the 
means  of  preserving  a  city,  whose  loss  must  prove  of  the 
most  fatal  consequence  to  the  cause  of  America."  Finally 
on  the  nth  he  wrote:  "I  shall  only  say  that  Philadelphia, 
beyond  all  question,  is  the  object  of  the  enemy's  move- 
ments, and  that  nothing  less  than  our  utmost  exertions  will 
be  sufficient  to  prevent  General  Howe  from  possessing  it. 
The  force  I  have  is  weak  and  entirely  incompetent  to  that 
end.  I  must  therefore  entreat  you  to  push  on  with  every 
possible  succour  you  can  bring."  ^  Neither  of  these  letters 
ever  reached  General  Lee. 

It  is  clear  that  General  Lee  did  not  regard  any  of  these 
dispatches  as  orders,  but  merely  as  letters  of  advice,  and  he 
evidently  did  not  care  to  merge  his  own  command  with  the 
main  army.  He  had  had  plans  of  his  own,  such  as  a  dash 
on  the  city  of  New  York,  and  even  now  preferred  to  follow 
laggardly  somewhat  in  the  rear  of  the  British  troops  rather 
than  place  himself  with  his  chief  in  their  very  front.  He 
had  written  to  the  president  of  the  Council  of  Massachusetts 
that  he  "considered  the  resolves  of  Congress  as  of  no 
weight,"  and  had  added  this  strange  remark:  "There  are 
times  when  we  must  commit  treason  against  the  laws  of  the 
State,  and  the  present  crisis  demands  this  brave,  virtuous 
kind  of  treason."  This  was  singular  language  for  the  sec- 
ond military  commander  in  the  new  republic  to  use. 

It  is  quite  apparent  that  he  considered  himself  as  on  de- 
tached service,  and  there  appears  to  be  no  doubt  that  he 
had  planned  an  important  diversion  by  marching  through 
Pluckemin  to  Princeton,  and  making  an  attack  on  the  en- 
emy's rear-guard,  or  striking  a  signal  blow  at  the  post  at 
Brunswick,  and  then  passing  around  to  the  British  left,  and 
taking  the  old  York  road  to  the  ferry  at  Burlington.  Gen- 
eral Washington  had  written  General  Lee  that  he  would 
have  no  objection  to  his  hanging  on  the  enemy's  rear  if 

'  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  74. 
^  Ibid.  vol.  V.  p.  83. 



there  was  sufficient  force  to  oppose  an  advance  upon  Phila- 

It  appears  that  Lee  was  twenty-three  da)'s  in  mo\'ing  his 
army  from  White  Plains,  on  the  Hudson  I^iver,  to  IMorris- 
town.  But  about  eleven  o'clock  on  the  morning  of  Friday, 
December  13,  he  was  surprised  at  White's  Tavern,  near 
Baskingridge,    Somerset    County,    by    a    scouting    party   of 



thirty  dragoons.  This  tavern  was  fully  twenty  miles  from 
the  English  lines,  and  at  least  four  miles  outside  the  pickets 
of  his  own  division.  This  little  body  of  troopers,  which 
belonged  to  the  Si.xteenth  regiment,  also  called  Burgoyne's 
regiment,  of  Queen's  light  dragoons,  at  that  time  under  the 
immediate  command  of  I..ieutenant-Colonel  the  Hon.  Wil- 
liam Harcourt,  and  which  had  been  sent  out  from  Penning- 
ton to  watch  the  movements  of  Tee's  division,  captured  the 
general  himself  with  "infinite  address  and  gallantry."  ^ 

^  This  detachment,  as  we  are  informed  in  De  Fonblanque's  L//i 
of  General  Burgovne,  was  part  of  that  regiment  which  Lee,  then  a  colo- 
nel in  the  British  service,  led  across  the  Tagus  on  October  5,  1762, 


General  Lee  was  treated  by  the  British  at  first  as  a 
deserter  from  their  army  rather  than  as  a  prisoner  of  war, 
because  he  had  entered  the  American  service  before  his 
resignation  as  a  heutenant-colonel  on  half  pay  had  been  ac- 
cepted. He  had  been  made  an  ensign  in  the  British  army 
while  yet  a  youth,  and  had  taken  part  in  the  French  and 
Indian  war  in  America  with  such  fierce  energy  that  the 
savages  had  given  him  the  name  of  "  the  spirit  that  never 
sleeps."  He  was  also  engaged  in  the  Spanish  war  in  Por- 
tugal, and  had  been  a  general  officer  in  the  army  of  Poland. 
After  being  held  as  a  prisoner  for  many  months,  the  English 
government,  considering  that  the  war  was  about  to  close, 
began  to  deal  with  him  as  a  state  prisoner.^ 

under  instructions  from  Burgoyne,  and  inflicted  great  damage  on  the 
enemy  at  Villa  Velha.  British  accounts  and  the  notes  on  the  war  writ- 
ten by  the  Hessian  officer  Captain  Ewald  say  that  the  troopers  captured 
one  of  Lee's  messengers,  forced  him  to  act  as  their  guide,  and  so  came 
upon  the  American  officer  suddenly;  but  Major  William  Bradford  of 
Lee's  stafE,  a  Rhode  Island  officer,  says  that  a  Jersey  loyalist  (said  to 
have  been  James  Compton  of  Baskingridge)  had  informed  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  Harcourt  that  Lee  was  spending  the  night  outside  of  his  own 
lines,  with  but  an  insignificant  guard.  Cornet  Banistre  Tarleton,  First 
regiment  dragoon  guards  (afterward  so  notorious  in  the  South),  was 
with  this  scouting  party  as  a  volunteer,  and  led  the  attacking  force. 
The  troopers  surrounded  the  tavern,  fired  a  volley,  and  carried  Lee  off 
without  his  hat  and  in  his  slippers,  an  odd-looking  prisoner,  whom  they 
took  to  "  Penny  Town  "  (Pennington).  In  January,  however,  he  was 
in  the  jail  at  Brunswick,  and  later  (January  22,  1777)  he  arrived  in  New 
York  city.  M.  de  Gaiault,  a  French  officer  (sometimes  given  the  title 
of  lieutenant-colonel),  who  had  just  joined  Lee  as  a  volunteer  aide-de- 
camp, was  taken  with  him. 

It  may  be  noted  here  that  the  little  troop  of  the  Sixteenth  Queen's 
light  dragoons,  while  returning  to  its  post,  made  a  diversion  for  the 
purpose  of  stirring  up  the  patriotic  people  of  the  village  of  Flemington. 
As  they  dashed  up  the  old  road  to  the  town,  a  bullet  from,  the  flint- 
lock of  some  Jersey  farmer  emptied  the  saddle  of  Cornet  Francis  Geary, 
entered  in  the  British  army  lists  as  "killed  December  14,  1776."  In 
1891  his  grave  by  the  roadside  was  opened,  and  the  truth  of  the  village 
tradition  verified  by  the  buttons  of  his  coat,  marked  "  16  Q.  L.  D.," 
being  found.  —  Proceedings  N.J.  Hist.  Soc.  2d  series,  xi.  166. 

1  General  Washington,  in  a  letter  dated  December  18,  and  written  to 


The  capture  of  Lee  had  a  bad  effect  upon  the  people  and 
upon  the  army.  They  had  extolled  him  as  a  brilliant  officer, 
full  of  decision  of  character  and  knowledge  of  war.  Too 
many  believed  that  had  Washington  followed  more  closely 
Lee's  advice  the  disasters  which  had  fallen  upon  the  cause 
would  have  been  averted.  The  British,  too,  thought  that 
they  had  captured  what  they  termed  the  "American  Pal- 
ladium"—  the  embodiment  of  the  military  genius  of  the 
rebellion,  and  they  gloried  greatly  in  the  good  fortune 
which  had  placed  such  a  leader  in  their  hands. 

As  we  look  upon  it  now,  his  conduct  shows  that  his  loss 
was  really  a  gain  to  the  service.  His  military  life  was  full 
of  disobedience.  He  tried  in  secret  to  defame  the  character 
of  Washington,  that  he  might  supplant  him  in  command. 
His  letters  written  at  the  very  house  of  his  capture  show 
that  he  was  treacherous.  One  letter  to  General  Gates,  dated 
December  1 3,  1 776,  which,  when  he  was  captured,  he  was 
about  to  give  to  Major  James  Wilkinson  (Gates's  aide-de- 
camp), and  which  Wilkinson  hastily  thrust  into  his  pocket 
as  he  concealed  himself,  shows  his  bitter  jealousy  as  well  as 
it  depicts  the  state  of  his  command.  "  Entre  nous,  a  certain 
great  man  is  most  damnably  deficient  —  He  has  thrown  me 
into  a  situation  where  I  have  my  choice  of  difficulties  —  if  I 
•stay  in  this  Province  I  risk  myself  and  Army  and  if  I  do  not 
stay  the  Province  is  lost  for  ever  —  I  have  neither  guides. 
Cavalry  Medicines  Money  Shoes  or  Stockings  —  I  must  act 
with  the  greatest  circumspection  —  Tories  are  in  my  front 
rear  and  on  my  flanks  —  the  Mass  of  the  People  is  strangely 
contaminated  —  in  short  unless  something  which  I  do  not 
expect  turns  up  We  are  lost  —  our  Counsels  have  been  weak 
to  the  last  degree."  ^ 

his  brother,  John  Augustine  Washington,  speaks  of  the  capture  of  Lee 
in  thisiway  :  "  It  was  by  his  own  folly  and  imprudence  (and  without  a 
view  to  answer  any  good)  he  was  taken."  General  Greene  spoke  of 
his  capture  in  unequivocal  language,  calling  it  a  "  strange  infatuation,'' 
and  General  Lord  Stirhng  wrote  that  it  was  "  one  of  Lee's  eccentric 
movements  and  only  remarkable  from  its  direction." 
1  New  York  Hist.  Soc.  Collections,  1872,  p.  348. 


His  overweening  ambition,  his  bad  judgment,  his  fickle 
will  and  his  treacherous  heart  ever  urged  him  to  act  inde- 
pendent of  the  commander-in-chief,  both  with  his  own  troops 
and  with  those  which,  by  diverting  General  Gates's  command, 
he  hoped  soon  to  receive  from  the  northern  army.  With 
these  troops  he  intended  to  attempt  some  brilliant  feat  which 
would  enable  him,  as  he  wrote  to  General  Heath,  to  "  recon- 
quer the  Jerseys,"  and  then  to  be  called  upon  to  assume  the 
highest  command  in  the  army.^  His  conduct  on  the  bat- 
tlefield of  Monmouth,  now  so  fully  and  clearly  explained  in 
the  late  Dr.  George  H.  Moore's  "  Treason  of  Charles  Lee," 
proves  him  to  have  been  a  very  traitor  at  heart.  While  in 
captivity  in  New  York,  March  29,  1777,  he  endeavored  to 
betray  America  into  the  hands  of  her  enemies.  Of  late 
years  a  document  has  been  found  in  England  in  Lee's  hand- 
writing, bearing  the  date  just  given  and  indorsed  "  Mr.  Lee's 
plan,"  which  was  intended  to  show  the  British  how  they 
could  most  easily  conquer  America.^  Certain  it  is  that  had 
he  lived  longer  in  military  office,  like  another  American 
general  he  would  have  transferred  his  allegiance  back  to 
the  British  crown.^ 

1  In  the  Journal  of  Elias  Boudinot,  commissary-general  of  prisoners 
(afterward  president  of  the  Continental  Congress),  Proceedings  of  Hu- 
guenot Society  of  America,  vol.  ii.  p.  278,  that  distinguished  patriot 
refers  to  language  used  by  Lee  to  him,  in  which  he  "  immediately 
began  to  urge  the  improbability  of  our  troops,  under  such  an  ignorant 
commander-in-chief,  ever  withstanding  British  grenadiers  and  light 
infantry."  And  again,  "  that  General  Washington  was  not  fit  to  com- 
mand a  sergeant's  guard." 

^  General  Lee  was  a  witty,  eccentric,  conceited  soldier  of  fortune, 
eager  to  espouse  the  cause  of  independence,  rather  more,  it  is  to  be 
feared,  because  of  its  novelty  and  the  opportunity  it  afforded  for  the 
display  of  his  brilliant  talents,  wide  experience  and  military  skill,  than 
for  the  love  which  he  pretended  to  have  for  American  freedom.  He  is 
described  by  Mrs.  Mercy  Warren,  the  historian,  as  "a  tall  man,  lank 
and  thin,  with  a  huge  nose,  a  satirical  mouth  and  restless  eyes,  who  sat 
his  horse  as  if  he  had  often  ridden  at  fox-hunts  in  England,  and  wore  a 
uniform  with  a  cynical  disregard  of  public  opinion." 

'  The  Treason  of  Charles  Lee,  Major-General,  Second  in  Command  in 
the  American  Army  of  the  Revolution,  by  George  H.  Moore,  Librarian 


Immediately  after  the  capture  of  General  Lee,  the  next 
officer  in  rank,  Major-General  John  Sullivan  (who  had  been 
exchanged  after  his  capture  at  the  battle  of  Long  Island  for 
General  Prescott  ^),  assumed  command  of  Lee's  division,  and 
in  order  to  show  the  troops  that  they  had  still  a  competent 
commander  he  rode  along  the  lines  and  gave  his  orders  in 
person  to  advance,  hastening  with  his  force  to  Germantown, 
from  there  to  Pittstown,  and  then,  to  avoid  the  British 
troops  at  Pennington,  took  the  road  to  Phillipsburg.  He 
crossed  the  Delaware  River  to  Easton  December  15,  and 
thence  marched  to  Bethlehem,  reporting  to  General  Wash- 
ington, in  a  snowstorm,  on  the  20th,  with  about  2000  men 
"much  out  of  sorts  and  much  in  want  of  everything."  The 
next  day  the  New  England  brigade.  Colonel  Daniel  Hitch- 
cock, was  sent  to  Bristol  to  reinforce  the  brigade  of  Phila- 
delphia militia  stationed  there  under  Colonel  John  Cad- 

The  division  of  Major-General  Horatio  Gates,  seven  regi- 

of  the  New  York  Historical  Society,  i860,  depicts  him  as  "plain  in  his 
person  to  a  degree  of  ugliness ;  careless  even  to  impoliteness ;  his 
garb  ordinary ;  his  voice  rough ;  his  manners  morose ;  yet  sensible, 
learned,  judicious  and  penetrating."  In  the  Memoirs  of  General  Lee, 
written  by  Edward  Langworthy,  he  is  said  to  have  been  "  of  a  genteel 
make,  and  rather  above  the  middle  size ;  his  remarkable  aquiline  nose 
rendered  his  face  somewhat  disagreeable."  Sir  Hugh  Bunbury  writes  : 
"  In  person  he  was  tall  and  extremely  thin  ;  his  face  ugly,  with  an  aqui- 
line nose  of  enormous  proportion." 

In  the.  Jou!-nal  of  a  British  Officer,  Captain  Thomas  Harris  (in  after 
years  Lord  Harris),  we  find  this  remark  in  reference  to  the  capture  of 
this  American  general :  "  Lee  behaved  as  cowardly  in  this  transaction  as 
he  had  dishonorably  in  every  other.  After  firing  one  or  two  shots  from 
the  house  he  came  out  and  entreated  our  troops  to  spare  his  life.  Had 
he  behaved  with  proper  spirit  I  should  have  pitied  him  and  wished  that 
his  energies  had  been  exerted  in  a  better  cause.  I  could  hardly  refrain 
from  tears  when  I  first  saw  him  and  thought  of  the  miserable  fate  in 
which  his  obstinacy  had  involved  him." 

1  Brigadier-General  Richard  Prescott  had  been  captured  November 
17,  1775,  and  exchanged  September  4,  1776,  for  General  Sullivan. 
General  Prescott  was  again  captured  near  Newport,  Rhode  Island,  July 
10, 1777,  and  exchanged  April  21,  1778,  for  Major-General  Charles  Lee. 


ments  in  all,  under  the  direct  command  of  Brigadier-General 
Benedict  Arnold,  arri\'ed  at  13cthlehem  the  same  day,  De- 
cember 20,  having  also  crossed  the  river  at  Easton.  Gates 
had  left  his  command  at  Sussex  Court  House,  and  with  his 
staff  and  escort   had  crossed  the   river   a  few   miles   above 

Easton.       But    when    he 

reached    Bethlehem,    he 

found  both  his  own  and 

^m^  Sullivan's    troops    there. 

M^^M  *■  A  The    force    of     General 

WB^^/^^B^i^  Gates    consisted    of    but 

"■^^^^^^^^^  500    effective    men,   and 

they  had  suffered  greatly 
in  a  severe  snowstorm 
which  had  detained  them 
on  the  road  through  Sus- 
sex County,  New  Jersey, 
in  the  valley  between  the 
Walpack  and  the  Kit- 
tatinny  ridges.  General 
Gates,  after  reporting 
himself  at  headquarters, 
was  allowed  to  go  to 
I'hiladelphia  on  "  sick 
Three  other  regiments,  under  Brigadier-General  Alex- 
ander AfcDougall,  stopped  at  Morristown,  and  were  united 
with  about  700  New  Jersey  militia  in  charge  of  Colonel 
Jacob  1^'ord,  Jr.,  commanding  the  eastern  battalion  of  Morris 
County.  These  regiments  consisted  in  all  of  about  520 
officers  cmd  men, — the  Third  Massachusetts  or  Twenty- 
fourth  Continental  infantry.  Colonel  John  Greaton,  250  men  ; 
the  Twenty-fifth  Continental  infantry,  formerly  commanded 
by  Colonel  William  Bond  (who  had  died  of  fever  August  31, 
1776),  100  men,  and  the  Fourth  Hampshire  County  (Massa- 
chusetts) regiment,  Colonel  Elisha  Porter,  170  men.  Briga- 
dier-General William  Maxwell,  who  had  been  in  command  of 



the  New  Jersey  Continental  line  at  Ticonderoga  (whose 
term  of  service  had  expired),  was  placed  by  General  Wash- 
ington (December  20)  in  charge  of  this  corps  at  Morristown, 
with  orders  to  harass  the  enemy,  and,  if  possible,  to  prevent 
the  people  from  taking  protection  from  the  British  author- 
ities. He  reached  Morristown  December  22,  and  assumed 
command  of  all  the  Continental  and  militia  forces  there. 
These  troops  in  the  brigade  of  General  McDougall,  and  the 
division  which  crossed  the  river  under  General  Arnold, 
were  all  sent  by  General  Schuyler  from  the  Northern  army, 
although  they  had  but  the  month  of  December  to  serve  in 
the  army.  The  fiery  Wayne  was  not  permitted  to  accom- 
pany them,  eager  as  he  was  to  do  so. 

On  Wednesday,  December  11,  the  Continental  Congress 
made  a  resolve  calling  for  a  day  of  fasting  and  humilia- 
tion, in  view  of  the  distressing  condition  of  the  American 

Herewith  is  the  text  of  this  action  in  Congress  :  — 

"  The  committee  appointed  to  prepare  a  resolution  for  ap- 
pointing a  day  of  fasting  and  humiliation  brought  in  a  report 
which  was  read  and  agreed  to,  as  follows  :  — 

"  Whereas  the  war  in  which  the  United  States  are  en- 
gaged with  Great  Britain  has  not  only  been  prolonged,  but  is 
likely  to  be  carried  to  the  greatest  extremity ;  and  whereas 
it  becomes  all  public  bodies,  as  well  as  private  persons,  to 
reverence  the  providence  of  God,  and  look  up  to  him  as 
the  supreme  disposer  of  all  events  and  the  arbiter  of  the  fate 
of  nations  ;  therefore 

"  Resolved,  That  it  be  recommended  to  all  the  United  States 
as  soon  as  possible  to  appoint  a  day  of  solemn  fasting  and 
humiliation  ;  to  implore  of  Almighty  God  the  forgiveness  of 
the  many  sins  prevailing  among  all  ranks,  and  to  beg  the 
countenance  and  assistance  of  his  providence  in  the  prosecu- 
tion of  the  present  just  and  necessary  war. 

"  The  Congress  do  also  in  the  most  earnest  manner  re- 
commend to  all  the  members  of  the  United  States,  and 
particularly  the  officers  civil  and  military  under  them,  the 


exercise  of  repentance  and  reformation  ;  and  further,  require 
of  them  the  strict  observation  of  the  articles  of  war,  and  par- 
ticularly that  part  of  the  said  articles  which  forbids  profane 
swearing  and  all  immorality,  of  which  all  such  officers  are 
desired  to  take  notice. 

"  It  is  left  to  each  State  to  issue  out  proclamations  fixing 
the  day  that  appears  most  proper  within  its  bounds." 

The  following  instructions  were  issued  by  General  Wash- 
ington to  Brigadier-Generals  Lord  Stirling,  Mercer,  Stephen 
and  De  Fermoy :  — 

Head-Quarters,  at  Keith's, 
14  December,  1776. 

Dear  Sir,  —  Lest  the  enemy  should  in  some  degree  avail 
themselves  of  the  knowledge  (for  I  do  not  doubt  but  they 
are  well  informed  of  everything  we  do),  I  did  not  care  to  be 
so  particular  in  the  general  orders  of  this  day,  as  I  mean  to 
be  in  this  letter  to  you.  As  much  time,  then,  would  be  lost, 
should  the  enemy  attempt  crossing  the  river  at  any  pass 
within  your  guard,  in  first  sending  you  notice,  and  in  the 
troops  to  wait  for  orders  what  to  do,  I  would  advise  you  to 
examine  the  whole  river  from  the  upper  to  the  lower  guard 
of  your  district ;  and,  after  forming  an  opinion  of  the  most 
probable  crossing-places,  let  those  be  well  watched,  and 
direct  the  regiments  or  companies  most  convenient  to  repair, 
as  they  can  be  formed,  immediately  to  the  point  of  attack, 
and  give  the  enemy  all  the  opposition  they  possibly  can. 
Everything  in  a  manner  depends  upon  the  defence  at  the 
water's  edge.  In  like  manner,  one  brigade  is  to  support  an- 
other, without  loss  of  time,  or  waiting  for  orders  from  me. 
I  would  also  have  you  fix  upon  some  central  spot  convenient 
to  your  brigade,  but  in  the  rear  a  little,  and  on  some  road 
leading  into  the  back  road  to  Philadelphia,  for  your  unneces- 
sary baggage,  wagons,  and  stores  ;  that,  in  case  your  oppo- 
sition should  prove  ineffectual,  these  things  may  not  fall 
(into  the  enemy's  hands),  but  be  got  off,  and  proceed  over 
Neshaminy  Bridge  towards  Germantown,  agreeably  to  the 
determination  of  the  board  of  officers  the  other  day. 


Let  me  entreat  you  to  find  out  some  person,  who  can  be 
engaged  to  cross  the  river  as  a  spy,  that  we  may,  if  possible, 
obtain  some  knowledge  of  the  enemy's  situation,  movements, 
and  intention.  Particular  inquiry  should  be  made  by  the 
person  sent,  if  any  preparations  are  making  to  cross  the 
river ;  whether  any  boats  are  building  and  where ;  whether 
they  are  coming  over  land  from  Brunswick ;  whether  any 
great  collection  of  horses  is  made,  and  for  what  purpose. 
Expense  must  not  be  spared  in  procuring  such  intelligence, 
and  it  will  readily  be  paid  by  me.  We  are  in  a  neighbour- 
hood of  very  disaffected  people.  Equal  care  therefore  should 
be  taken,  that  one  of  these  persons  does  not  undertake  the 
business  in  order  to  betray  us. 

I  am,  dear  Sir,  yours,  &c. 

Go.  Washington.! 
'  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  92. 


Scarcely  a  week  had  passed  since  Washington  had 
crossed  the  river,  and  so  placed  a  barrier  between  his  despond- 
ent army  and  the  foe,  before  he  began  to  think  of  making 
an  aggressive  movement.  Major  John  Armstrong,  the  per- 
sonal aide-de-camp  of  General  Mercer,  wrote  a  half  century 
after  this  event :  "  Two  or  three  days  after  we  had  crossed 
the  Delaware  there  were  several  meetings  between  the  adju- 
tant-general and  General  Mercer,  at  which  I  was  permitted 
to  be  present ;  the  questions  were  discussed,  whether  the 
propriety  and  practicability  did  not  exist  of  carrying  the  out- 
posts of  the  enemy  and  ought  not  to  be  attempted.  On  this 
point  no  disagreement  existed  between  the  generals,  and  to 
remove  objections  in  other  quarters  it  was  determined  they 
should  separately  open  the  subject  to  the  commander-in- 
chief  and  to  such  officers  as  would  probably  compose  his 
council  of  war,  if  any  should  be  called.  I  am  sure  the  first 
of  these  meetings  was  at  least  ten  days  before  the  attack  on 
Trenton  was  made." 

We  find  the  first  notice  of  the  future  plans  of  the  Amer- 
ican chief  in  a  letter  to  General  Gates,  dated  December  14  :^ 
"  If  we  can  draw  our  forces  together,  I  trust,  under  the 
smiles  of  Providence,  we  may  yet  effect  an  important  stroke, 
or  at  least  prevent  General  Howe  from  executing  his  plans." 

And  again  on  the  same  day  he  wrote  to  Governor  Jon- 
athan Trumbull,  the  patriotic  executive  of  Connecticut,  in 
reference  to  the  troops  of  Gates  :  "  By  coming  on  they  may, 
in  conjunction  with  my  present  force,  and  that  under  Gen- 
eral Lee,  enable  us  to  attempt  a  stroke  upon  the  forces  of 
the  enemy,  who  lie  a  good  deal  scattered,  and  to  all  appear- 
ances in  a  state  of  security.  A  lucky  blow  in  this  quarter 
'  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  91. 


would  be  fatal  to  them,  and  would  most  certainly  rouse  the 
spirits  of  the  people,  which  are  quite  sunk  by  our  late  mis- 
fortunes." ^ 

He  wrote  also  to  Major-General  William  Heath  on  that 
day :  "  If  we  can  collect  our  force  speedily  I  should  hope 
we  may  effect  something  of  importance  or  at  least  give  such 
a  turn  to  our  affairs  as  to  make  them  assume  a  more  pleas- 
ing aspect  than  they  now  have." 

On  the  2 1st  day  of  December  General  Greene  wrote  the 
following  to  Governor  Nicholas  Cooke  of  Rhode  Island :  ^ 
"  We  are  now  on  the  west  side  of  the  Delaware ;  our  force 
is  small  when  collected  together ;  but  small  as  it  is,  I  hope 
we  shall  give  the  enemy  a  stroke  in  a  few  days.  Should 
fortune  favor  the  attack,  perhaps  it  may  put  a  stop  to  Gen- 
eral Howe's  progress." 

Rumors  of  these  plans,  entirely  unofficial,  however,  reached 
Philadelphia,  but  it  is  supposed  that  they  were  scarcely  cred- 
ited by  those  who  had  heard  of  the  condition  of  the  army. 
In  Christopher  Marshall's  "  Remembrances,"  under  date  of 
December  1 8  we  find  this  expression  :  "  News  that  our  army 
intended  to  cross  at  Trenton  into  the  Jerseys."  ^ 

It  was  imperative  that  something  be  at  least  attempted, 
or  the  union  of  the  States  would  be  pronounced  a  failure, 
the  Declaration  of  Independence  counted  an  idle  boast,  and 
the  cause  of  liberty  immediately  abandoned.  In  Washing- 
ton's letter  to  his  brother  (December  18)  the  situation  is 
well  described  :  "  If  every  nerve  is  not  strained  to  recruit 
the  new  army  with  all  possible  expedition,  I  think  the  game 
is  pretty  nearly  up,  owing,  in  a  great  measure,  to  the  insidious 
arts  of  the  enemy  and  disaffection  of  the  colonies  before 
mentioned,  but  principally  to  the  ruinous  policy  of  short 
enlistments,  and  placing  too  great  a  dependence  on  the  mili- 

^  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  93. 

^  Force's  American  Archives,  sth  series,  vol.  iii.  p.  1342. 

'  Robert  Morris  also  wrote  to  Washington,  December  21  :  "I  have 
been  told  to-day  that  you  are  preparing  to  cross  into  the  Jerseys.  I 
hope  it  may  be  true." 


tia,  the  evil  consequences  of  which  were  foretold  fifteen 
months  ago,  with  a  spirit  almost  prophetic.  .  .  .  You  can 
form  no  idea  of  the  perplexity  of  my  situation.  No  man,  I 
believe,  ever  had  a  greater  choice  of  difficulties,  and  less 
means  to  extricate  himself  from  them.  However,  under  a 
full  persuasion  of  the  justice  of  our  cause,  I  cannot  entertain 
an  idea  that  it  will  finally  sink,  though  it  may  remain  for 
some  time  under  a  cloud."  ^ 

The  historian  Bancroft  in  his  great  work  remarks,  in  refer- 
ence to  the  troubles  with  which  General  Washington  had  to 
contend  and  the  means  at  hand  to  relieve  them  :  — 

"  The  sharp  tribulation  which  assayed  his  fortitude  carried 
with  it  a  divine  and  an  animating  virtue.  Hope  and  zeal 
illuminated  his  grief.  His  emotions  come  to  us  across  the 
century  like  strains  from  an  eternity  which  repairs  all  losses 
and  rights  all  wrongs  ;  in  his  untold  sorrows  his  trust  in 
Providence  kept  up  in  his  heart  an  under-song  of  wonderful 
sweetness.  The  spirit  of  the  Most  High  dwells  among  the 
afflicted,  rather  than  the  prosperous  ;  and  he  who  has  never 
broken  his  bread  in  tears  knows  not  the  heavenly  powers. 
The  trials  of  Washington  are  the  dark,  solemn  ground  on 
which  the  beautiful  work  of  the  country's  salvation  was 

The  situation  at  this  time  from  the  British  point  of  view 
is  set  forth  in  the  report  which  General  Howe  made  to  Lord 
Germain,  colonial  secretary  of  state,  December  20,  1776.^ 
It  describes  in  detail  the  rather  dignified  pursuit  of  the  en- 
emy, who  is  represented  as  being  at  the  last  gasp,  although 
it  is  admitted  that  the  partial  destruction  of  a  bridge  over 
the  Raritan  impedes  the  British  progress,  and  that  as  the 
Americans  had  denuded  the  Delaware  near  Trenton  of 
boats,  it  was  deemed  wise  to  await  the  freezing  over  of  the 
river  before  attempting  a  movement  into  Pennsylvania. 

Glancing  for  a  moment  at  the  Hessian  force  in  Burlington 
County,  New  Jersey,  we  find  that  (December  19)  Colonel 

'  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  109. 
2  Part  ii.  No.  16. 


von  Donop,  accompanied  by  Colonel  von  Block,  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  Sterling  and  a  strong  patrol,  went  as  far  as  Mount 
Holly  for  the  purpose  of  getting  a  correct  military  idea  of 
the  country.  On  his  return  to  Bordentown  the  next  day, 
Colonel  von  Doriop  received  a  letter  from  Colonel  Rail,  giv- 
ing him  the  incidents  of  the  previous  day  at  the  post  of 
Trenton,^  complaining  of  the  exposed  nature  of  his  right 
flank,  and  noting  the  activity  of  the  American  scouts. 

On  the  following  day  General  Grant  wrote  Colonel  von 
Donop  a  letter  ^  in  English,  and  as  Lieutenant-Colonel  Ster- 
ling had  not  returned  to  Bordentown,  Colonel  von  Donop 
must  have  had  difficulty  in  reading  it.  It  gave  routine  news, 
referred  to  the  scarcity  of  forage,  and  the  large  detachment 
which  Colonel  Rail  sent  to  carry  his  letter  to  General  Grant. 

Before  von  Donop  received  this  letter,  however,  he  had 
written  General  Grant  a  communication  in  French  to  the 
effect  that  a  contemplated  attack  upon  General  Putnam  at 
Cooper's  Creek  had  been  abandoned  for  reasons  mentioned.^ 

The  same  day,  December  21,  Colonel  von  Donop  heard 
from  Colonel  von  Block  at  Black  Horse  that  the  enemy  had 
been  seen  that  day  in  the  village  of  Mount  Holly.  He  sent 
an  express  rider  to  inform  Colonel  Rail  of  this  fact,  so  that 
if  a  simultaneous  attack  were  designed  by  the  American 
troops  on  both  posts,  he  need  not  be  surprised. 

Colonel  von  Donop  did  not  leave  Bordentown  that  day 
personally  to  investigate  the  report.  In  the  afternoon  he 
received  a  letter  *  from  Rail,  which  informed  him  of  the  sin- 
gular fact  that  he  had  sent  a  force  of  one  hundred  men  to 
take  a  single  letter  through  to  Princeton.^ 

Just  before  dark  Colonel  Rail  sent  another  letter  to  his 
immediate  commanding  officer,  in  which  he  pleaded  for  the 
retention  of  one  third  of  his  command,  and  in  this  he  suc- 

1  Part  ii.  No.  17.  ^  Part  ii.  No.  18 

3  Part  ii.  No.  19.  ^  Part  ii.  No.  20. 

5  It  will  be  seen  that  Rail  was  criticised  for  this  act  by  General 

8  Part  ii.  No.  21. 


Among  the  German  documents  at  Marburg,  Germany, 
there  appears  a  letter  written  in  French,  but  which  has  no 
indication  of  the  writer,  the  recipient,  or  the  place  from  which 
it  was  written.  It  is  evident,  however,  from  the  style  and 
the  facts  given,  that  it  must  have  been  written  by  Colonel  von 
Donop,  probably  on  the  road  to  Mount  Holly,  to  Major-Gen- 
eral  Grant,  and  that  it  should  have  been  dated  December  21 
or  22.^ 

In  the  mean  time  General  Grant's  messenger  was  hurrying 
on  to  Trenton  with  a  letter  directly  addressed,  contrary  to 
military  usage,  to  Colonel  Rail,  in  which  he  speaks  slight- 
ingly of  the  American  army,  and  depicts  what  he  believes 
to  be  their  desperate  condition.^ 

That  Saturday  afternoon  was  a  busy  day  at  Bordentown 
as  well  as  at  Trenton.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Sterling  sent 
Colonel  von  Donop  two  letters  within  three  hours  of  each 
other.^  The  one  gives  Colonel  von  Donop  some  informa- 
tion, and  the  other  the  advice  for  which  he  had  asked. 

On  Friday,  Saturday  and  Sunday,  December  20,  21  and 
22,  Colonel  von  Donop  received  much  information  from  the 
loyalists  of  Burlington  County  as  to  the  condition  of  the 
American  army  on  the  west  bank  of  the  Delaware  River, 
and  the  movements  of  a  party  which  they  erroneously  sup- 
posed was  commanded  by  General  Putnam  and  which  was 
in  the  lower  portion  of  Burlington  and  old  Gloucester  coun- 
ties. New  Jersey.  Some  of  these  statements  as  made  by 
the  Tories  are  still  on  file  in  the  archives  of  Marburg  in  Ger- 
many. It  is  interesting  to  note  the  style  of  this  intelligence 
and  the  combination  of  truth  and  error  thus  furnished. 

Four  of  these  documents  have  been  copied  and  are  given 

Captain  Friedrich  Heinrich  Loray,  of  the  Hessian  chas- 
seurs, who  had  been  stationed  above  Bordentown  in  close 
connection  with  Colonel  Rail's  picket  at  the  drawbridge  of 
Crosswicks    Creek,  reported  that  he  had  strengthened  the 

'  Part  ii.  No.  22.  2  Part  ii.  No.  23. 

2  Part  ii.  No.  24.  ■*  Part  ii.  No.  25. 


guard  at  the  bridge  and  would  look  out  for  the  rear  of  Rail's 

At  four  o'clock  on  Sunday  morning,  December  22,  Colonel 
von  Donop  started  for  Black  Horse.  When  he  reached  that 
village  he  was  informed  that  the  enemy  had  withdrawn 
during  the  night  and  had  left  only  a  picket  at  the  meeting 
house  on  the  north  side  of  Mount  Holly.  This  seems  to 
have  satisfied  him,  for  soon  after  the  noon  hour  he  left 
Black  Horse  on  his  return  to  Bordentown.  It  was  two 
o'clock  of  the  same  afternoon,  and  he  had  just  entered 
his  headquarters  there,  when  he  was  startled  by  the  alarm 
given  by  the  little  three-pounder  which  he  remembered 
stood  in  front  of  "  The  Sun  "  inn  at  Black  Horse.  A  few 
moments  afterward  he  heard  the  signal  gun  fired  at  Mans- 
field Square  by  the  von  Linsingen  battalion.  Again,  after 
sending  an  express  rider  to  Colonel  Rail,  he  mounted  his 
horse  for  another  ride  to  Black  Horse.  On  arriving  there 
he  found  all  the  troops  under  arms,  and  he  was  informed 
that  soon  after  he  had  left  the  village  in  the  morning  some 
four  or  five  hundred  rebels  had  made  an  attack  on  the  picket 
at  Rancocas  bridge  and  had  driven  away  the  sergeant  and 
twelve  men  of  the  Forty-second  British  regiment  who 
were  stationed  at  a  small  house  close  to  the  bridge.  Two 
of  the  men  of  the  regiment  were  badly  wounded  in  this 
encounter.  On  hearing  of  this  attack  Captain  Ernst  von 
Eschwege  and  his  grenadier  company  of  the  von  Linsingen 
battalion  hastened  to  their  rescue.  This  company  also  had 
a  soldier  wounded,  but  they  brought  the  affair  to  an  end. 

Colonel  von  Donop  spent  the  night  of  December  22  at 
the  tavern  at  Black  Horse,  and  the  next  morning  he  started 
for  Mount  Holly.  He  also  ordered  the  Forty-second  British 
regiment  and  the  battalions  von  Block  and  von  Linsingen 
to  .accompany  him.  On  nearing  the  church  on  the  road 
to  the  village  of  Mount  Holly,  he  descried  a  detachment  of 
American  militia,  and  he  directed  a  few  shots  to  be  fired  at 
them  from  the  three-pounders.  Colonel  von  Donop  states 
1  Part  ii.  No.  26. 


that  three  of  the  enemy  were  either  wounded  or  killed  by 
this  firing,  but  he  lost  none  of  his  men.  The  militia  re- 
treated in  the  direction  of  Moorestown.  He  then  stationed 
the  Forty-second  regiment  and  the  von  Block  battalion  in 
Mount  Holly  for  the  purpose  of  gathering  forage  and  stores. 

Glancing  again  at  Colonel  Rail  at  Trenton,  we  find  that 
(December  22)  General  Leslie  ordered  a  part  of  his  com- 
mand, the  First  light  infantry  battalion,  to  patrol  as  far  as 

Colonel  Rail  immediately  reported  this  movement  to 
Colonel  von  Donop.  It  seems  that  Rail  could  not  resist 
the  temptation  to  indulge  in  a  little  sarcasm  at  the  expense 
of  his  British  superior  officer  :  — 

Sir  :  ' 

General  Leslie  sent  to-day  the  First  Battalion  of  Light 
Infantry  to  Trenton.  He  thought  that  a  battalion  of  my 
command  had  marched  from  here.  As  there  were  no  more 
attacks  on  this  post  I  have  sent  the  battalion  back.  A 
letter  from  General  Grant  is  enclosed.  He  has  also  written 
me  and  what  makes  me  pleased  is  that  he  knows  the 
strength  of  the  enemy  thirty  miles  off,  better  than  we  do 
here.  He  writes  me  the  enemy  are  naked,  hungry  and 
very  weak  and  that  it  is  not  necessary  to  place  troops  at 
Maiden  head.  Rall. 

Trenton  22nd  of  December  1776. 

General  Grant  wrote  an  interesting  letter  to  Colonel  von 
Donop,  December  23.  It  is  doubtful  if  the  beer  which  he 
promised  was  ever  issued  to  the  men. 

Brunswick  23rd  Dec.  1776. 
Sir  : 

The  heavy  Artillery  is  at  Amboy  with  your  fourth  Bat- 
talion Grenadiers.     Sir  Wm.  Erskine  is  gone  to  put  them  in 
motion,  he  is  to  acquaint  me  when  every  thing  is  ready  and 
1  Part  ii.  No.  27. 



you   shall  be  informed  what  Day  they  march  that  you  may 
make  a  move  to  cover  them. 

We  are  all  in  a  great  Favour  at  home.  His  Majesty  has 
ordered  Spruce  Beer  to  be  issued  to  the  Troops  without 
any  stoppage,  if  we  cannot  get  spruce,  we  must  contrive  to 
make  small  Beer,   a  Brewer  here  has  undertaken  to  serve 


the  Troops,  at  Ten  shilling  Currency  for  a  Quarter  Cask, 
containing  thirty  four  Gallons,  that  will  amount  nearly  to  a 
penny  Currency  for  a  Quart  to  each  man  a  Day,  will  you  be 
kind  enough  to  inform  me  if  you  can  get  any  Body  to 
undertake  it  upon  the  same  terms. 

I  am  anxious  to  get  the  Waggons  I  mentioned  to  you. 
We  cannot  depend  upon  the  navigation  of  the  river  rariton 
and  without  Waggons  from  your  District  I  shall  not  be  able 
to  keep  you  and  Gen.  Leslie's  Corps  supplied. 


Be  so  good  as  to  leave  as  much  of  the  Country  upon 
your  right  as  you  can  to  Gen.  Leslie  as  I  have  directed  him 
not  to  take  any  Forage  in  the  country  from  Princeton  to 
this  place. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be,  Sir, 

Your  most  obedt,  h'ble  servant 

James  Grant. 


Leaving  New  Jersey  and  the  cantonments  of  the  Hessian 
soldiery,  and  looking  again  at  the  American  army  in  Bucks 
County,  Pennsylvania,  it  is  well  to  give  in  full  the  text  of 
what  is  known  as  the  "Pomroy  letter."  ^  Colonel  Joseph 
Reed,  the  adjutant-general  of  the  Continental  army,  having 
been  sent  to  Bristol  by  General  Washington  on  special 
service,  urged  upon  his  chief  the  importance  of  an  imme- 
diate crossing  of  the  river.  By  this  time  Washington  had 
left  the  house  of  William  Keith,  and  had  come  down  to 
the  river  bank  that  he  might  procure  earlier  intelligence 
and  quickly  consult  with  his  subordinate  officers.  He  dated 
his  letters  of  December  20  and  the  three  days  following, 
"At  Camp  above  Trenton  Falls,"  and  by  this  he  evidently 
meant  the  camp  of  General  Lord  Stirling  at  Beaumonts 
near  McKonkey's  Ferry,  and  about  ten  miles  above  Trenton 
Ferry.     He  did  not  return  to  Keith's  house  until  Christmas. 

As  soon  as  Washington  received  the  "  Pomroy "  letter 
he  sent  for  Reed  to  come  to  his  headquarters,  when  the 
intended  movement  on  the  Hessian  outposts  was  fully 
explained.  On  his  return  to  Bristol  Colonel  Reed  held 
a  consultation  with  Colonel  Cadwalader,  after  which  he 
crossed  the  river  at  night  with  Lieutenant-Colonel  John  Cox 
of  the  Philadelphia  Associators  to  see  Colonel  Samuel 
Grifhn.  They  found  him  quite  ill.  His  expedition  had 
been  only  partially  successful,  as  will  hereafter  appear.  On 
Reed's  return  to  Bristol  he  received  a  letter  ^  from  General 
Washington  (probably  written  at  Lord  Stirling's  quarters  at 
Beaumonts)  giving  full  details  of  the  proposed  movement  on 

The  plan  stated  in  Colonel  Reed's  letter,  and  casually 
1  Part  ii.  No.  28.  2  p^rt  ii.  No.  29. 


alluded  to  in  the  first  line  of  General  Washington's  com- 
munication, of  an  attack  by  Colonel  Cadwalader  and  700  of 
his  men  on  the  Hessian  troops  near  Mount  Holly  was  not 
carried  out.  During  the  third  week  in  December  Major- 
General  Putnam  sent  Colonel  Samuel  Griffin  with  a  small 
command  of  about  600  militia  and  volunteers,  including  two 
companies  of  Virginia  troops,  to  make  a  movement  against 
the  Hessian  advance  through  the  county  of  Gloucester  and 
into  Burlington  County,  New  Jersey.  Colonel  Griffin  was  a 
deputy  adjutant-general  of  the  flying  camp,  and  he  had  been 
announced  in  general  orders,  December  14,  1776,  as  adju- 
tant-general to  the  troops  in  and  about  Philadelphia.  He 
made  his  headquarters  at  Haddonfield,  and  then  began  some 
slight  demonstration  on  the  outposts  near  Moorestown,  a 
few  miles  from  Mount  Holly,  and  applied  to  the  American 
force  at  Bristol  for  two  or  three  hundred  volunteers  and  two 
pieces  of  artillery.  About  this  time  he  was  unfortunately 
taken  sick,  and  so  inefficient  was  his  command  that  the 
expedition  proved  almost  fruitless.  However,  as  we  have 
already  seen,  it  took  Colonel  von  Donop  and  two  of  his  regi- 
ments away  from  his  headquarters  at  Bordentown,  and  for 
four  days  fixed  his  attention  upon  the  little  force  in  front  of 
him,  thus  diverting  it  from  Trenton,  where  the  real  attack 
was  to  be  made. 

From  Joseph  Galloway's  "  Letters  to  a  Nobleman  on  the 
Conduct  of  the  War  in  the  Middle  Colonies,"  we  quote  the 
following :  — 

"  In  order  to  draw  Colonel  de  Donop  from  his  post  at 
Bordentown,  and  to  prevent  his  supporting  Colonel  Raile  at 
the  time  of  the  assault,  he  sent  a  corps  of  450  militia,  many 
of  whom  were  boys  picked  up  in  Philadelphia  and  the  coun- 
ties of  Gloucester  and  Salem,  to  Mount  Holly,  with  orders 
not  to  fight,  but  fly  as  soon  as  the  effect  of  the  manoeuvre 
had  taken  place.  The  plan  succeeded.  Colonel  de  Donop 
marched  against  this  insignificant  part  of  the  rebel  force 
with  his  whole  corps  of  2000  men  (eighty  left  at  Bordentown 
excepted),  down  to  Mount  Holly,  twelve  miles  from  his  post 


and  eighteen  from  Trenton,  the  post  he  ought  to  have  been 
at  hand  to  support.  The  rebel  corps  immediately  fled,  and 
dispersed  on  his  approach  ;  and  yet,  instead  of  immediately 
returning  to  Bordentown  to  support  Colonel  Raile,  he  re- 
mained loitering  two  days  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Burling- 
ton, without  having  a  single  enemy  to  oppose." 

An  interesting  incident  may  not  inappropriately  be  re- 
ferred to  at  this  point  in  the  history  of  the  campaign.  The 
adjutant-general  of  the  Continental  army,  by  direction  of 
General  Washington,  made  an  effort  to  prevent  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  town  of  Burlington,  New  Jersey,  which  if  occu- 
pied by  the  Hessian  troops  was  in  danger  of  suffering  from 
a  bombardment  by  the  American  fleet. 

On  the  20th  day  of  December,  Colonel  Joseph  Reed 
addressed  a  letter  to  Colonel  von  Donop  from  the  quarters 
of  Colonel  Cadwalader,  the  post  commander  in  Bristol. 

This  letter,  found  among  the  German  archives  at  Mar- 
burg, Germany,  and  never  before  published,  fully  exonerates 
Colonel  Reed  from  the  charge  made  by  the  historian  Ban- 
croft and  others,  of  carrying  on  an  illicit  correspondence 
with  the  enemy.  Surely  if  Washington  had  been  induced 
to  "make  some  propositions  on  the  subject,"  it  was  right,  it 
was  the  duty  of  his  chief  staff  officer  to  attempt  to  execute 
his  instructions.     The  letter  is  as  follows  :  — 

Bristol  Dec.  20,  1776 
Sir  : 

The  peculiar  situation  of  the  Town  of  Burlington  exposed 
to  hostilities  from  both  parties  has  induced  General  Wash- 
ington to  make  you  some  propositions  on  this  subject.  For 
this  Purpose  I  will  tomorrow  do  myself  the  honour  of  wait- 
ing on  you  at  the  time  and  Place  you  will  please  to  appoint. 
I  have  the  honour  to  be  with  the  greatest  respect  Sir 
Your  most  obedient  and  very  h'le  servant 

Jos:  Reed 
Adj.  General  of  the  Continental  Army. 

Colonel  von  Donop  immediately  replied  that  his  situation 


was  such  that  it  would  not  admit  of  his  leaving  his  post  at 
present  for  the  purpose  of  the  interview.  The  truth  is  that 
the  heavy  artillery  not  having  arrived,  the  question  did  not 
press  itself  strongly  upon  Colonel  von  Donop ;  but  on  the 
Tuesday  following,  thinking  an  interview  with  Colonel  Reed 
advisable,  he  wrote  him  this  letter :  — 

Mount  holly  Dec  24th  1776 
Sir  : 

In  consequence  of  my  Letter  to  you  in  answer  to  yours  of 
20th  Inst,  relative  to  the  peculiar  situation  of  the  Town  of 
Burlington  at  present  I  am  to  inform  you,  if  it  is  agreeable, 
that  I  shall  meet  you  at  John  Antrims  about  half  way  be- 
twixt this  place  and  Burlington  to  hear  any  proposition  you 
may  have  to  make  with  regard  to  that  place  at  1 2  o'clock 
tomorrow  forenoon,  two  of  my  Chasseurs  shall  be  ready  to 
attend  you  as  a  safe  Guard  at  Burlington  to  the  place  ap- 
pointed. — • 

I  am  Sir  — 

Your  most  obed.  &  most  humble  serv. 

Carl  de  Donop 

To  Jos.  Reed,  Esq. 

P.  S.  —  To  prevent  any  Doubt  on  your  part  of  your  safety 
an  Officer  will  accompany  the  two  Chasseurs  with  a  Flag  to 
your  house  in  the  City  and  you  may  bring  any  Officer  with 
you,  you  please.  — 

Colonel  Reed  was  in  Philadelphia  on  Christmas  day,  and 
an  express  rider  was  sent  for  him.  Colonel  Cadwalader 
thought  it  advisable  to  reply  to  the  communication  himself, 
which  he  did  in  the  following  letter  :  — 

Bristol,  25th  Dec  1776. — 

As  Col.  Reed  is  not  at  this  Post  at  present,  I  opened  the 

Letter  sent  here  with  a  Flag,  directed  to  him.      There  is  no 

other  person  here  so  fully  acquainted  with  the  Business  he 


proposed  mentioning  to  you  at  the  Interview  he  requested. 
I  expect  he  will  return  to-morrow  morning  to  this  Post,  and 
he  will  then  request  you  to  name  an  other  Time  and  Place 
which  may  be  convenient  to  you.  — 
I  am,  Sir,  with  great  respect 

Your  obed't  humble  servant 

John  Cadwalader 

Colonel.  — 
P.  S.  —  I  did  not  receive  the 
Flag  today  till  half  past 
ten  A.  M.  — 

Colonel  Reed,  although  he  returned  to  Bristol  on  Christ- 
mas afternoon,  did  not  resume  the  correspondence.  He  was 
then  too  busy  in  aiding  the  attempt  to  cross  the  Delaware 
River  and  stir  up  the  cantonments  of  Colonel  von  Donop. 
In  the  diary  of  the  loyalist  Margaret  Morris  of  Burlington, 
we  find  under  date  of  December  26  a  reference  to  this  sub- 
ject: "Very  stormy:  we  fear  Gen.  Reed  will  not  meet  the 
Count  today." 

This  correspondence,  although  by  direction  of  Washing- 
ton—  and  therefore  the  subordinate  officer  is  altogether  free 
from  military  criticism  —  has  been  made  the  occasion  by  sev- 
eral writers  of  strongly  expressed  doubts  of  Reed's  loyalty 
to  the  American  cause.  The  first  attack  was  made  by  Dr. 
Benjamin  Rush  of  Philadelphia,  under  the  signature  of 
"Brutus,"  in  the  "Independent  Gazetteer,"  September  3, 
1782.  General  Reed  thought  that  his  former  comrade.  Gen- 
eral Cadwalader,  was  the  author,  and  charged  him  with  it  in 
a  communication  dated  November  i,  1782.  General  Cad- 
walader replied  early  in  the  year  1783,  as  we  find  from  a 
singular  letter  ^  most  adroitly  written  to  him  by  a  friend  of 
both  parties.  Colonel  George  Morgan,  and  dated  April  17, 

1  Never  published,  but  now  in  possession  of  the  Hon.  Garret  D.  W. 
Vroom  of  Trenton,  New  Jersey. 

^  General  Cadwalader  expected  General  Reed  to  challenge  him,  but 


On  the  day  before  Christmas,  Acting  Quartermaster-Gen- 
eral Gamble  of  the  British  army  issued  a  circular  to  the 
inhabitants  of  Hunterdon  and  Burlington  counties.  The 
stores  and  forage  which  were  so  much  needed  for  the  British 
troops  in  the  cantons  of  Trenton  and  Bordentown,  as  well  as 
for  General  Grant's  forces  at  Brunswick,  do  not  seem  to 
have  been  forthcoming.  The  price  list  annexed  to  the  cir- 
cular is  of  interest  as  showing  the  cost  of  food  and  forage 
at  that  period  in  the  war.^ 

It  was  a  dark  hour  in  our  country's  history,  a  crisis  which 
had  to  be  met  with  unflinching  courage.  The  situation  was 
a  grave  one,  and  unless  some  decisive  blow  were  struck, 
regardless  of  the  consequences  of  possible  defeat,  the  cause 

Reed,  conscious  of  his  own  innocence,  determined  that  this  should  come, 
if  at  all,  from  General  Cadwalader.  In  the  year  1842  the  Valley  Forge 
Letters  -were  published,  followed  in  1847  by  a  carefully  prepared  bio- 
graphy of  General  Reed,  written  by  his  grandson,  William  B.  Reed. 
The  controversy  was  renewed  in  1856  in  a  pamphlet  entitled  Nuts  for 
Future  Historians  to  Crack.  In  1866  the  Hon.  George  Bancroft  pub- 
lished the  ninth  volume  of  his  history  of  the  United  States,  in  which 
he  distinctly  charged  General  Reed  with  being  untrue  to  the  cause  of 
national  independence.  In  1867,  in  a  monograph  entitled yoj-^/^  Reed, 
a  Historical  Essay,  Mr.  Bancroft  asserted  his  belief  that  Reed  had 
accepted  protection,  under  the  proclamation  of  the  brothers  Howe, 
from  Colonel  von  Donop.  Mr.  William  B.  Reed  replied  to  this  severe 
attack  in  an  able  argument.  Mr.  Bancroft  followed  with  a  lengthy 
paper  on  the  subject,  and  Mr.  Reed  closed  the  controversy  with  a  strong 
refutation  of  each  point  in  the  attack.  Mr.  Bancroft  attempted  to  sus- 
tain his  opinion  by  quoting  from  the  diary  of  Colonel  von  Donop  of 
December  21,  1776,  wherein  the  Hessian  commander  refers  to  "  Colonel 
Reed,  who  lately  received  a  Protection,"  etc.,  etc.  In  the  year  1876  it 
was  discovered  beyond  the  slightest  doubt  that  the  Colonel  Reed  who 
did  take  "  protection  "  from  Colonel  von  Donop  was  Colonel  Charles 
Read  of  the  Burlington  County  (New  Jersey)  militia,  and  not  Colonel 
Joseph  Reed,  Washington's  adjutant-general.  Mr.  Bancroft  acknow- 
ledged the  mistake  he  had  made,  and  an  account  of  this  discovery  was 
published  by  the  author  of  this-  work  in  a  monograph  entitled  The 
Reed  Controversy  —  Further  Facts  with  Reference  to  the  Character  of 
Joseph  Reed,  Adjutant-General  on  the  Staff  of  George  Washington. 
Printed  for  private  distribution,  2d  edition,  Trenton,  1885. 
1  Part  ii.  No.  30. 



of  national  freedom  would  be  irretrievably  lost.  The  over- 
whelming adversity,  the  desperate  straits  which  confronted 
the  young  nation  on  every  hand,  were  quite  enough  to  dis- 
hearten the  boldest  patriot.     A  general  depression  hung  over 


the  country  like  a  dark  and  foreboding  cloud.  Yet  between 
liberty  and  defeat  stood  a  little  army  of  desperate  men 
devoted  to  their  chief,  soldiers  who  still  stood  by  him,  who 
still  hoped  that  his  master  mind  would  devise  some  plan  by 
which  he  might  snatch  victory  from  the  jaws  of  defeat.  It 
was  to  Washington  that  all  hearts  turned  in  this  hour  of 
misfortune  and  disaster,  and  he  fully  merited  their  trust  and 


confidence.  Not  for  a  moment  did  he  entertain  any  idea  of 
abandoning  the  sacred  cause.  With  calm  dignity  of  manner 
and  an  undaunted  spirit  he  moved  among  his  men  encour- 
aging them  in  their  sufferings,  and  cheering  them  by  the 
hope  of  a  favorable  change  in  the  near  future.  It  is  doubt- 
ful if  anywhere  in  history  can  be  cited  such  an  example  of 
the  head  of  a  dispirited  force,  of  a  chieftain  deserted  by  a 
Congress  which  was  preparing  to  throw  on  him  the  entire 
responsibility  of  the  war,  but  who  turned  toward  his  troops 
a  cheerful  countenance,  and  looked  forward  with  confidence 
to  a  brighter  day. 

During  this  period  of  depression  General  Washington  was 
busily  engaged  in  procuring  reinforcements  for  his  little  army, 
and  in  this  respect  he  was  in  a  degree  successful.  The  men 
who  had  already  joined  him  arid  those  who  were  marching 
from  different  parts  of  Pennsylvania,  Delaware  and  Mary- 
land toward  his  camp  were  true  men,  thoroughly  impressed 
with  the  idea  of  patriotic  duty,  and  clearly  understanding 
the  value  of  victory  won  in  that  critical  hour,  and  the  price 
which  must  be  paid  for  defeat.^ 

Thomas  Paine,  the  author  of  the  tract  called  "  Common 
Sense,"  and  who  is  thought  to  have  been  temporarily  attached 
to  the  staff  of  Maj  or-General  Greene  as  a  volunteer  aide-de- 
camp during  this  campaign,  wrote,  while  in  the  American 
camp,  that  number  of  "  The  American  Crisis  "  which  made 
it  famous.  In  this  stirring  appeal,  which  was  published  in 
the  "  Pennsylvania  Journal,"  December  19,  1776,  he  expressed 
the  feeling  then  uppermost  in  every  patriotic  heart :  "  These 
are  the  times  that  try  men's  souls.     The  summer  soldier  and 

'  Elkanah  Watson,  writing  at  this  time  at  Plymouth,  Massachusetts, 
refers  to  this  period  of  the  struggle  in  these  words  :  "  We  looked  upon 
the  contest  as  near  its  close,  and  considered  ourselves  a  vanquished 
people.  The  young  men  present  determined  to  emigrate  and  seek 
some  spot  where  liberty  dwelt  and  where  the  arm  of  British  tyranny 
could  not  reach  us.  Major  Thomas  animated  our  desponding  spirits 
with  the  assurance  that  Washington  was  not  dismayed,  but  evinced  the 
same  serenity  and  confidence  as  ever.  Upon  him  rested  all  our  hopes." 
—  Men  and  Times  of  the  Revolution,  or  Memoirs  of  Elkanah  Watson, 
p.  24. 



the  sunshine  patriot  will,  in  this  crisis,  shrink  from  the  ser- 
vice of  his  country  ;  but  he  that  stands  it  now,  deserves  the 
thanks  of  man  and  woman."  This  address  was  ordered  to 
be  read  at  the  head  of  each  regiment,  and  the  effect  of  its 
strong,  patriotic  sentences  was  apparent  upon  the  spirits  of 
the  army. 

The  commander-in-chief  had  divided  his  force  into  three 
separate  corps,  one  sta- 
tioned at  Bristol,  another 
at  Trenton  Ferry,  and  the 
third  and  largest,  which 
included  all  the  remain- 
ing troops  in  Pennsylva- 
nia, he  posted  for  several 
miles  on  the  Delaware 
River  north  of  Yardley's 

Colonel  John  Cadwala- 
der,  as  the  senior  colo- 
nel of  the  Philadeljjhia 
battalions  of  Associators, 
acting  as  a  general  officer, 
commanded  the  division 
from  the  Bordentown  Fer- 
ry to  Dunk's  Ferry,  with 
headquarters  at  Bristol. i 
Colonel  Cadwalader's  division  consisted  of  about  1800  men.^ 

1  He  was  a  native  of  Philadelphia,  and  formerly  had  been  the  cap- 
tain of  the  "Greens"  or  "The  Silk  Stocking  Company,"  wliich  was 
composed  of  young  men  of  high  social  position  in  that  city.  He  was 
an  officer  of  polished  manners  and  a  bold,  brave  soldier.  Twice  he  was 
appointed  a  brigadier-general  of  the  Continental  army,  —  February  21, 
1777,  and  September  10,  177S,  —  but  he  declined  both  commissions.  He 
was  made  a  brigadier-general  of  the  Pennsylvania  militia  April  5,  1777, 
and  so  continued  until  the  close  of  the  war.  Washington  characterized 
him  as  "a  man  of  ability,  a  good  disciplinarian,  firm  in  his  principles, 
and  of  intrepid  bravery."  He  distinguished  himself  on  the  German- 
town  and  Monmouth  battlefields. 

-  Part  ii.  No.  31. 



General  James  Ewing  commanded  the  division  of  Penn^ 
sylvania  and  New  Jersey  militia  ^  which  was  posted  along 
the  river  from  Yardley's  P^erry  to  Bond's  Ferry  and  the 
ferry   to    Bordentown.      His   headquarters   was   at    Colvin's 


]i"erry  House,  which  still  stands  opposite  to  what  was  then 
called  the  Trenton  Landing.- 

Brigadier-General  Philemon  Dickinson,  commanding  the 
New  Jersey  militia,  was  with  General  Ewing  in  command  of 

'  Part  ii.  No.  32. 

-  General  Ewing  was  born  at  Lanca.ster,  Pennsylvania,  and  entered 
military  life  under  (General  Braddock  in  1755.  On  the  4th  of  July 
1776,  he  was  made  a  brigadier-general  of  Pennsylvania  militia,  and  in 
this  campaign  was  in  command  of  the  Pennsylvania  troops  of  the  flying 
camp.  The  identity  of  this  officer  has  been  strangely  confused  in  his 
tory.  General  Wilkinson,  in  his  Mcjiwirs,  calls  him  Irvin.  Dr.  Gordon 
refers  to  him  as  Erwing.  Botta  spells  his  name  Irwin;  and  Marshall 
writes  it  Irvine. 



a  small  body  of  the  soldiers  of  that  State.  They  were  all 
posted  at  Yardley's  Ferry  and  along  the  river  bank  for  one 
mile  south  of  that  place.* 

General  Washington  took  special  command  of  the  remain- 
ing corps,  selecting  therefrom  a  body  of  about  2400  men 
for  the   proposed    expedition.       The   remainder   he    left    to 


guard   the   camp   equipage   at   the   several   stations   already 
mentioned  ^ 

'  General  Dickinson  was  one  of  the  truest  patriots  of  the  Revolution. 
Possessed  of  an  ample  fortune,  he  devoted  his  wealth,  his  time,  and  his  • 
talents  to  the  glorious  struggle.  He  distinguished  himself  in  many 
engagements,  and  especially  at  the  battle  of  Monmouth.  He  was  made 
a  major-general  June  6,  1777.  He  was  chosen  a  member  of  Congress 
from  the  State  of  Delaware  February  2,  1782,  and  died  in  Trenton, 
New  Jersey,  February  4,  1S09. 

2  General  Washington's  staff  consisted  of :  Joseph  Reed,  colonel  and 
adjutant-general ;  Thomas  Mifflin,  brigadier-general  and  quartermaster- 
general ;  Henry  Kno.x,  colonel  and  chief  of  artillery;  Joseph  Trumbull, 
colonel  and  commissary-general;  William  Palfrey,  lieutenant-colonel 
and  paymaster-general;  George  Baylor,  lieutenant-colonel  and  aide-de- 

84     THE    r.ATTLES    OF    TRENTON    AND    PRINCETON 

Washington  called  his  general  officers  i  together  in  council 
at  his  heaclquartei-s  at  William  Keith's  house,  (Hi  Knowles's 
Creek,  a  few  miles  tVom  Newtown.  The  following  officers 
were  present :  Major-Generals  John  Sullivan  and  Nathanael 
Greene  ;  Brigadier-Generals  Lord  Stirling,  Roche  de  Fermoy, 


Hugh  Mercer,  Adam  Stephen  and  Arthur  St,  Clair  ;  Colonels 
Paul  D.  Sargent,  John  Stark,  John  Glover  and  Henry  Knox. 

camp:  William  Oravson,  lieutenant-colonel  and  aide-de-camp ;  Samuel 
B.  Webb.  lieutenant-colonel  and  aide-de-camp;  Richard  Carey,  lieuten- 
ant-colonel and  aide-de-camp;  John  Fitzgerald,  lieutenant-colonel  and 
aide-de-camp  (he  was  in  commission  as  captairL  Third  Virginia  Conti- 
nental regiment,  February  8,  177O,  and  must  have  been  announced  as 
lieutenant-colonel  and  aide-de-camp  in  November,  1776);  Robert  H. 
Harrison,  lieutenant-colonel  and  military  secretary;  Tench  Tilghman, 
captain  Penns"\ivania  battalion  of  the  flying  camp,  and  acting  as 
assistant  secretary  and  volunteer  aide-de-camp;  David  Henly,  lieu- 
tenant-colonel of  the  Fifth  Massachusetts  regiment,  assigned  to  tem- 
porary duty  with  this  staff. 

'  For  biographical  sketches  of  these  officers  see  Part  ii.  No.  33. 


The  Reverend  Dr.  Alexander  Macwhorter,  the  patriotic  pas- 
tor of  the  Presbyterian  Church  of  Newark,  New  Jersey, 
who  had  followed  the  army  on  the  retreat  through  that 
State,  was  also  present,  and  took  part  in  the  deliberations  of 
the  council  of  war.  At  this  meeting  the  plan  of  recrossing 
the  Delaware  and  making  an  attack  upon  the  enemy's  post 
was  discussed,  and  finally  agreed  upon.  The  crossing  of  the 
river  seemed  to  be  the  greatest  difficulty ;  but  Colonel  Glover 
told  General  Washington  not  to  be  troubled  about  that,  as 
his  boys  would  manage  it.  It  is  said  that  at  one  of  these 
meetings  Colonel  Stark,  who,  although  not  a  brigade  com- 
mander, was  an  officer  of  great  experience,  gave  his  opinion 
of  the  past  conduct  of  the  army  and  their  present  situation 
in  these  pertinent  words  :  "  Your  men  have  too  long  been 
accustomed  to  place  their  dependence  for  safety  upon  spades 
and  pickaxes.  If  you  ever  expect  to  establish  the  independ- 
ence of  these  States  you  must  teach  them  to  place  depend- 
ence upon  their  firearms  and  courage." 

The  inspection  of  the  army,  December  22,  1776,  shows  on 
the  rolls  679  officers  and  10,804  enlisted  men.  From  this 
return  5319,  not  quite  one  half  the  force,  must  be  taken  for 
men  sick,  wounded,  on  extra  duty,  or  on  furlough,  which 
leaves  6164  men  present  for  duty.  Add  to  these  the  four 
regiments  from  the  Northern  army,  which  came  with  Major- 
General  Gates,  estimated  strength  500  men,  and  who  were 
then  brigaded  under  General  St.  Clair,  but  who  evidently, 
and  without  apparent  reason,  were  not  included  in  this 
inspection ;  looo  men  belonging  to  the  battalions  of  the  Phila- 
delphia Associators,  and  perhaps  400  of  the  New  Jersey 
militia,  and  a  detachment  of  the  Pennsylvania  militia  which 
joined  the  army  on  Monday,  December  23,  and  the  result  is 
a  force  of  8000  soldiers,  with  say  6000  effective  men,  —  the 
number  stated  by  Lord  Stirling  to  the  Hessian  officers  in 
his  custody  after  the  battle  of  Trenton.  A  careful  examina- 
tion of  the  return  as  printed  in  Force's  "  American  Archives," 
5th  series,  vol.  iii.  p.  1401,  shows  it  to  have  been  incorrectly 
added  in  several  instances,  and  we  think  the  result  is  more 


accurate  as  just  stated.^  These  troops  were  scattered  along 
thirty  miles  on  the  Pennsylvania  side  of  the  Delaware  River, 
and  prepared  for  a  dash  upon  the  enemy's  outposts. 

The  New  England  brigade  at  Bristol  was  poorly  provided 
with  camp  equipage  and  blankets,  and  had  meagre  stores  of 
any  kind.  The  Philadelphia  battalions,  so  near  their  homes, 
were  in  good  condition  for  a  winter  campaign.  The  detach- 
ments of  militia  at  Trenton  Ferry  were  not  furnished  with 
the  necessities  for  encamping,  marching,  or  fighting  in  an 
inclement  season  ;  but  it  is  generally  understood  that  they 
were  expected  to  serve  only  for  a  short  period.  The  Conti- 
nental regiments  on  the  river  above  the  ferry  were  greatly 
in  want  of  clothing  and  supplies.  Many  of  the  men  were 
barefooted,  as  the  commander  of  the  First  Pennsylvania 
rifle  regiment  said  his  organization  certainly  was,  and  Gen- 
eral Washington  was  obliged  to  send  men  about  the  country 
to  beg  and  buy  old  clothing  and  blankets  for  his  freezing 

The  prospects  were  gloomy  indeed  for  the  little  army 
which  rallied  around  the  standard  of  freedom.  The  right- 
eous cause  for  which  they  had  taken  up  arms  seemed  in  this 
decisive  moment  of  the  war  about  to  suffer  defeat,  and 
visions  of  new  levies  of  taxes  began  to  appear  to  the  men, 
while  certain  ardent  officers  caught  fleeting  glimpses  of 
sequestered  lands  and  the  hangman's  rope. 

1  A  note  in  Sparks's  Writings  of  Washington,  vol.  ii.  p.  244,  repeated 
in  a  note  in  Ford's  The  Writings  of  George  Washingtoii,  vol.  v.  p.  130, 
says  that  the  return  does  not  include  Sullivan's  division ;  but  surely  the 
brigades  of  Colonels  Hitchcock,  Glover  and  Sargent  were  part  of  Gen- 
eral Lee's  force,  and  composed  the  division  which  General  Sullivan 
brought  to  General  Washington's  army.  The  four  regiments  from  the 
Northern  army  are  given  as  1200  men;  but  General  Gates,  under  or- 
ders, left  part  of  his  force  at  Morristown,  under  Brigadier-General 
McDougall,  transferred  afterward  to  the  command  of  Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Maxwell,  and  he  had  but  500  effective  men  when  he  reached  the 
main  army.  The  Pennsylvania  militia  under  Colonel  Cadwalader  at 
Bristol  is  numbered  at  1800  men,  but  they  were  only  1000  men;  the 
remaining  800  were  the  veteran  troops  of  Colonel  Hitchcock's  brigade, 
and  are  enumerated  in  the  return. 


About  this  time  Captain  Ephraim  Anderson,  who  belonged 
to  Colonel  Israel  Shreve's  Second  battalion,  New  Jersey 
Continental  line,  with  a  small  party  of  recruits  for  that  battal- 
ion, was  doing  himself  and  his  men  much  credit  by  constant 
scouting  tours  through  Hunterdon  County,  New  Jersey. 

Dr.  William  Gordon,  in  his  "  History  of  the  American 
War,"  speaks  of  a  spy,  apparently  a  rather  simple  youth, 
who  was  employed  to  go  about  among  the  soldiers  in  the 
village  of  Trenton,  where  he  soon  learned  the  strength  and 
position  of  the  Hessian  forces.  General  de  Fermoy  received 
the  report  of  the  spy  at  his  post  on  the  river  bank,  and  he 
dispatched  a  staff  officer  to  communicate  the  facts  to  Gen- 
eral Washington.  On  receiving  this  information  the  general 
remarked,  "  Now  is  our  time  to  clip  their  wings  while  they 
are  so  spread." 

By  the  aid  of  trusted  officers  of  the  militia  of  New  Jersey, 
and  by  intelligence  obtained  from  the  patriot  farmers  of 
Hunterdon  and  Burlington  counties,  General  Washington 
soon  became  familiar  with  the  position,  size  and  condition 
of  the  royal  army. 

But  it  is  a  well-established  tradition  that  the  most  reliable 
account  of  Colonel  Rail's  post  at  Trenton  was  given  by 
Washington's  spy,  John  Honeyman  of  Griggstown,  Somer- 
set County.  This  man  was  of  Scotch-Irish  descent,  and  was 
a  soldier  in  the  body-guard  of  General  Wolfe  when  that  offi- 
cer fell  at  the  storming  of  the  Heights  of  Abraham.  His 
neighbors  called  Honeyman  the  "  Tory  traitor  ;  "  yet  he  was 
the  trusted  spy  of  the  American  chieftain.  General  Wash- 
ington had  met  John  Honeyman  when  in  camp  on  the  Hack- 
ensack  River  in  November,  and  the  man  had  then  agreed 
,to  serve  his  country,  within  the  British  lines  if  necessary, 
by  acting  the  part  of  a  Tory,  and  by  talking  in  favor  of  the 
British  cause.  As  a  butcher  and  a  dealer  in  cattle,  he  began 
his  trade  with  the  English  army,  and  at  the  same  time  ob- 
served their  position,  numbers,  and  probable  movements. 
No  one  knew  his  real  character  but  the  commander-in-chief 
whom  he  was  serving.      His  wife  was  shielded  from  the 


insult  and  injury  which  would  otherwise  have  been  offered  by 
those  patriots  who  thought  her  husband  a  traitor,  by  a  letter 
which  Washington  had  sent  her.  This  letter  was  written 
in  the  "American  Camp,  November  1776,"  and  addressed 
"To  the  good  people  of  New  Jersey  and  all  others  whom  it 
may  concern."  It  was  ordered  that  "the  wife  and  children 
of  John  Honeyman  of  Griggstown,  the  notorious  Tory  now 
within  the  British  lines  and  probably  acting  the  part  of  a 
spy,"  should  be  "protected  from  all  harm  and  annoyance." 
But  this  order  was  to  furnish  "no  protection  to  Honey- 
man  himself."  During  the  third  week  in  December,  John 
Honeyman  was  in  and  around  Trenton  trying  to  procure 
cattle  from  the  farmers,  and  taking  them  into  the  village 
for  slaughter.  Having  thoroughly  informed  himself  as  to 
the  condition  of  the  Hessian  soldiery,  he  walked  out,  on  the 
afternoon  of  December  22,  on  the  River  road,  carrying  his 
whip  and  a  piece  of  rope  in  his  hand,  as  if  to  hunt  for  cattle. 
About  three  miles  from  Trenton,  while  trying  to  lead  off  a 
cow  he  was  seen  by  two  American  scouts,  whom  he  had  pre- 
viously observed,  and  whose  attention  had  been  attracted  to 
him  by  the  sharp  crack  of  his  cart  whip.  They  captured  him 
after  a  struggle,  and,  binding  him  with  his  own  rope  to  one  of 
their  horses,  went  a  few  miles  up  the  river,  ferried  him  over, 
and  delivered  their  prize  at  the  headquarters  of  the  army. 
He  was  taken  to  General  Washington,  who,  after  asking  all 
the  officers  to  withdraw,  directed  the  guard  around  his  quar- 
ters to  shoot  the  prisoner  if  he  tried  to  escape.  A  half 
hour's  conversation  then  took  place  between  the  patriot  spy 
and  the  American  chief,  after  which  Honeyman  was  placed 
in  a  log-house  prison,  and  a  court-martial  was  ordered  for 
the  morning.  During  the  night,  undoubtedly  by  some  plan 
of  General  Washington,  the  spy  escaped,  eluded  pursuit, 
recrossed  the  river  to  Trenton,  and  it  is  said  told  Colonel 
Rail  of  his  capture  and  escape,  giving  him  a  doleful  account 
of  the  condition  of  the  American  army.  He  then  left  Tren- 
ton, and  wandered  off  to  Brunswick,  so  that  he  might  not 
be  present  at  the  capture  of  the  village,  lest  he  should  be 


upbraided  by  the  Hessians  and  lose  his  power  of  being  use- 
ful to  the  American  cause.  There  appears  to  be  no  doubt 
that  the  information  given  by  him  that  winter  night  was 
the  direct  cause  of  the  movement  on  Trenton  three  days 
afterward.     He  lived  to  be  ninety-three  years  of  age.^ 

We  find  by  the  minutes  of  the  Council  of  Safety  of  New 
Jersey,  December  5,  1777,^  that  John  Honeyman  was  ordered 
on  that  day  to  be  committed  to  the  "  Trenton  Gaol  for  High 
Treason,"  and  that  on  December  20,  1777,  although  thought 
guUty  of  so  heinous  a  crime  he  was  allowed  to  enter  into 
recognizance  to  appear  at  the  next  general  quarter  sessions, 
when  he  was  released.  His  surety  in  this  case  was  Jacob 
Hyer,  a  patriot  soldier  then  on  duty  in  the  quartermaster's 
department  of  the  Hunterdon  County  militia.  John  Honey- 
man  evidently  had  a  diificult  r61e  to  play  in  serving  his  coun- 
try, for  in  June,  1778,  he  was  again  in  trouble.^ 

In  a  letter  of  General  Washington  to  Governor  Living- 
ston, dated  Valley  Forge,  January  20,  1778,  in  reference  to 
three  other  Jersey  spies  who  had  been  apprehended  upon  a 
supposition  that  they  were  carrying  on  an  illegal  correspond- 
ence with  the  enemy,  he  remarked  :  "  You  must  be  well 
convinced  that  it  is  indispensably  necessary  to  bear  the 
suspicion  of  being  thought  inimical ;  and  it  is  not  in  their 
power  to  assert  their  innocence,  because  that  would  get 
abroad  and  destroy  the  confidence  which  the  enemy  puts  in 

The  foolishly  planned  chain  of  cantonments  and  the 
weakly  guarded   posts  of   the  enemy  gave   the  American 

1  See  article  by  the  late  Justice  John  Van  Dyke  of  the  New  Jersey 
Supreme  Court,  entitled  "  An  Unwritten  Account  of  a  Spy  of  Washing- 
ton," in  Our  Home,  a  monthly  magazine  published  at  Somerville,  New 
Jersey,  October,  1873.  Also  copy  of  letter  of  Justice  Van  Dyke  to 
A.  V.  D.  Honeyman,  publisher  of  said  magazine,  dated  January  6,  1874, 
On  file  in  the  adjutant-general's  office  at  Trenton.  This  letter  gives  the 
authorities  for  the  article  just  referred  to. 

2  Minutes  of  the  Council  of  Safety  of  New  Jersey,  Jersey  City,  1872, 
pp.  169,  176. 

8  Part  ii.  No.  35. 


army  the  looked-for  opportunity  at  least  to  attempt  the  re- 
trieval of  its  ill  fortunes  and  the  rescue  of  the  State  now  lost 
to  the  authority  of  the  people.  General  Washington  was 
full  of  anxiety  for  the  fate  of  the  cause,  which,  as  he  after- 
wards said,  "  nothing  but  the  infatuation  of  the  enemy  could 
have  saved."  He  hoped  now  in  some  way  to  compel  them 
to  assume  a  less  formidable  shape,  so  as  no  longer  to  over- 
awe the  entire  State  and  threaten  the  city  of  Philadelphia.! 

At  this  time  Trenton  was  a  small  village,  and  it  derived 
its  principal  importance  from  the  fact  that  it  was  at  the 
head  of  sloop  navigation  at  the  falls  of  the  Delaware  River, 
and  from  its  being  on  the  main  postal  and  transportation 
highway  between  New  York  and  Philadelphia.  Most  of  the 
stage  travel  in  those  days  was  across  one  or  the  other  of 
the  ferries  at  Trenton.  Lieutenant  Jacob  Piel,  the  brigade 
adjutant  of  Colonel  Rail,  says  the  village  contained  about 
one  hundred  houses,  and  there  appear  to  have  been  about 
seventy  houses  north  of  the  Assunpink  Creek,  and  scarcely 
thirty  houses  below  the  creek.  At  the  time  of  the  battle, 
quite  a  number  of  these  houses  had  been  deserted  by  their 
owners,  and  of  course  were  quickly  taken  possession  of  by 
the  Hessians.  Most  of  the  houses  in  the  town  were  situated 
on  the  two  main  streets,  then  called  King  and  Queen,  but 
now  known  as  Warren  and  Broad  streets.  These  two 
streets,  running  nearly  parallel,  and  almost  north  and  south, 
united  at  a  point  north  of  the  village,  and  from  this  junc- 
tion diverged  to  Pennington  and  to  Maidenhead,  now  Law- 
renceville.     Between  these  two  roads  leading  out  from  the 

1  Lord  Mahon  in  his  History  of  England  ^-ay^  that  General  Wash- 
ington received  a  visit  from  General  Benedict  Arnold  about  this  time, 
and  that  Arnold  suggested  the  surprise  of  the  post  of  Trenton.  This 
statement  is  certainly  incorrect,  as  Arnold  did  not  reach  Washington's 
camp  until  December  20,  and  an  attack  on  the  enemy  had  been  con- 
sidered and  written  about  by  General  Washington  a  week  previous. 
Moreover,  General  Washington  sent  General  Arnold,  the  day  after  his 
arrival,  to  command  troops  being  raised  in  New  England,  which  he 
would  hardly  have  done  if  the  "surprise  "  had  been  of  Arnold's  sug- 

TRENTON    IN    1776  91 

same  point  was  the  lane  to  the  Beakes  estate,  and  this  is 
now  called  Princeton  avenue.  King  street  did  not  cross 
the  Assunpink  Creek,  but  with  a  curve  to  the  east  at 
Front  street  led  into  Queen  street.  There  were  two  other 
important  streets  in  Trenton  at  that  time.  One,  Front 
street,  began  at  Queen  street,  passed  the  lower  end  of 
King  street,  and  thence  turned  northward  near  the  barracks 
into  the  River  road  at  what  is  now  Willow  street.  The 
other,  then  called  Second,  but  now  State  street,  and  running 
parallel  to  Front  street,  began  at  what  is  now  the  corner  of 
State  and  Willow  streets,  crossed  both  King  and  Queen 
streets,  and  after  passing  the  Presbyterian  Church  dwindled 
into  a  country  road  leading  through  an  apple  orchard  to 
Samuel  Henry's  iron  foundry  and  steel  works  on  the  creek. 
The  Assunpink  Creek,  doubtless  much  larger  then  than 
now,  was  fordable  at  several  places  along  the  easterly  side 
of  the  town,  and  it  emptied  into  the  Delaware  River  just 
below  the  falls.  At  the  foot  of  Queen  street  a  stone  bridge 
spanned  the  creek,  and  from  there  led  to  the  Trenton  Ferry, 
to  Crosswicks  and  Bordentown,  to  Allentown  and  Sand- 
town  and  the  Quaker  bridge.  On  either  side  of  the  creek 
there  was  rising  ground,  and  on  the  south  side  considerable 
woods.  The  road  leading  from  the  bridge  to  the  ferry  was 
on  the  edge  of  what  was  then  called  the  Bloomsbury  Farm, 
formerly  the  residence  of  Chief  Justice  William  Trent,  the 
house  being  then  temporarily  occupied  by  Dr.  William  Bry- 
ant, a  practicing  physician,  and  afterward  by  Colonel  John 
Cox  of  Philadelphia.  This  house  is  always  referred  to  in 
German  records  as  the  "  Doctor  House."  As  we  have 
stated,  the  town  above  the  creek  may  be  considered  as 
bounded  by  what  we  call  to-day  the  Creek,  Montgomery 
street.  Perry  street  and  Willow  street.  All  outside  of  these 
bounds  was  then  in  the  suburbs  of  the  village.  There  was 
a  tavern  on  the  Maidenhead  road  and  there  were  several 
houses  on  the  Pennington  road,  a  few  houses  on  King 
street  north  of  the  Enghsh  Church,  now  St.  Michael's 
Episcopal  Church,  and  a  few  fine  residences  on  the  River 



road,  yet  all  these  were  then  considered  as  on  the  outskirts 
of  the  town.  In  the  village  were  two  or  three  prominent 
taverns,  a  stone  barracks  built  by  the  province  of  New 
Jersey  in  the  time  of  the  French  and  Indian  war,  two  frame 
churches,  —  the  Presbyterian  and  the  Methodist,  —  the 
English  Church,  of  brick,  the  Friends'  Meeting  House,  of 
brick,  and  the  stone  jail,  now  a  part  of  the  Trenton  Bank. 
The  entire  village  was  considered  a  very  open  one,  for  the 
houses  were  greatly  scattered. ^ 

As  has  been  stated,  Colonel  Rail  had  opened  his  head- 
quarters in  Trenton  on  the  r4th  day  of  December.  His 
own  quarters  were  in  a  large  frame  house  on  the  west  side 
of  King  street,  nearly  opposite  the  Enghsh  Church.  It 
was  then  occupied  by  Stacy  Potts,  a  wealthy  gentleman,  who 
owned  a  large  tannery  near  by,  and  a  steel  works  on  Petty's 
Run,  near  the  river.  This  house  was  opposite  to  what  is 
now  Perry  street,  and  the  rectory  of  the  Roman  Catholic 
Bishop  of  Trenton  was  subsequently  erected  on  its  site. 
Colonel  Rail  was  greatly  pleased  to  be  assigned  the  command 

'  For  more  minute  description  of  the  village,  the  houses  and  the 
residents,  see  a  pamphlet  entitled  Trenton  One  Hundred  Years  Ago^  by 
the  author  of  this  work. 







of  this  important  post  so  close  to  the  enemy.  He  thought 
that  there  he  might  gain  new  and  still  greater  glory.  When 
the  subject  of  making  a  cantonment  at  Trenton  was  first 
considered,  it  was  thought  that  to  place  a  heavy  picket  there 
would  be  the  wisest  course ;  but  Colonel  Rail  claimed  that 
his  services  around  New  York  city  entitled  him  to  the  com- 
mand of  a  brigade,  and  General  Howe  yielded  to  him  and 
gave  him  verbal  as  well  as  written  orders  through  Colonel 
von  Donop  to  assume  command  of  the  post.  Even  at  this 
time  it  was  Colonel  Rail's  intention  to  wait  until  the  river 
froze  and  then  to  cross  it  and  by  a  forced  march  attack  and 
capture  the  city  of  Philadelphia. 

The  Rail  grenadier  regiment  was  quartered  near  the  cor- 
ner of  King  and  Second,  now  Warren  and  State  streets. 



They  occupied  the  jail,  now  the  Trenton  Bank,  the  post- 
office  on  the  corner  above,  Francis  Witt's  City  Tavern  on 
the  southwest  corner,  Henry  Drake's  Bull  Head  Tavern  on 
Second  street,  the  houses  of  William  Pidgeon  and  Abraham 
G.  Claypoole  on  King  street,  and  many  other  dwelling-houses 
in  the  same  locality.  This  regiment  wore  a  dark  blue  uni- 


The  von  Lossberg  fusilier  regiment,  which  had  been  de- 
tained a  few  days  at  EHzabeth  Town,  reached  Trenton  on 
the  morning  of  December  14,  but  the  Rail  and  the  von 
Knyphausen  regiments  had  arrived  there  December  12. 
The  von  Lossberg  regiment  immediately  went  into  quarters 
on  King  street,  the  same  street  in  which  the  Rail  regiment 


was  Stationed,  and  there  held  the  right  wing  of  the  canton- 
ment. Some  of  the  companies,  however,  were  much  scat- 
tered. The  main  portion,  consisting  of  the  body,  the  von 
Toos  and  the  Scheffer  companies,  was  lodged  in  the  Eng- 
lish Church  and  in  the  houses  of  Micajah  How,  on  the  east 
side,  of  Colonel  Isaac  Smith,  Thomas  Barnes  and  Miss  Re- 
becca Coxe,  on  the  west  side  of  the  street,  and  other  smaller 
buildings  adjacent.  One  of  the  companies,  commanded  by 
Captain  von  Altenbockum,  was  at  Alexander  Calhoun's  house 
and  in  his  store  on  the  Pennington  road,  just  at  the  head  of 
the  road  to  Beatty's  Ferry,  now  Calhoun  street.  Another, 
the  von  Hanstein  company,  was  at  Jonathan  Richmond's 
inn,  just  below  the  Assunpink  bridge.  Altogether  this  regi- 
ment had  the  use  of  sixteen  buildings.  The  men  wore 
bright  red  coats,  resembling  somewhat  the  British  foot. 


The  von  Knyphausen  regiment  was  stationed  at  the  corner 
of  Queen  and  Second  streets  and  the  vicinity.  It  occupied 
the  Presbyterian  Church  on  Second  street,  the  village  school 
adjacent,  the  houses  of  William  and  Ellet  Tucker  and  Joseph 
Milnor  on  the  corners  of  Queen  and  Second  streets,  and  the 
houses  of  Thomas  Tindall,  John  Bellerjeau,  Thomas  Ryall 
and  Joshua  Newbold,  one  square  north  and  one  square  south 
of  the  present  City  Hall.  The  men  of  this  regiment  were 
dressed  in  a  plain  black  uniform,  and  presented  a  very  sombre 
appearance,  as  contrasted  with  the  other  soldiers  of  Rail's 

Each  of  the  five  companies  in  every  Hessian  regiment  had 
five  or  six  houses  assigned  to  it,  so  it  is  easily  seen  that  had 
it  not  been  for  the  public  buildings  every  private  house  in 
the  village  would  have  been  occupied  by  the  Hessian  troops. 

The  twenty  British  dragoons,  members  of  the  Sixteenth 
regiment.  Queen's  light  dragoons,  a  detachment  of  which,  as 
we  have  already  seen,  had  captured  Major-General  Charles 
Lee  of  the  American  army,  used  as  their  quarters  the 
Friends'  Meeting  House  on  Third  street,  now  Hanover.  This 
building,  which  still  stands,  had  been  used  July  5,  1776,  as 
the  place  of  meeting  of  the  provincial  convention  of  New 
Jersey,  and  soldiers  stationed  in  the  village,  or  passing 
through  Trenton  from  Pennsylvania  to  the  army  at  Wood- 
bridge  and  Amboy,  had  repeatedly  taken  possession  of  the 
house  as  barracks.  Both  of  these  acts  being  inconsistent 
with  the  religious  principles  of  the  Society  of  Friends,  and 
"wars  and  fightings  "  or  conventions  which  led  thereto  being 
their  special  abhorrence,  they  protested  in  the  Chesterfield 
monthly  meeting  against  such  abuse  of  their  rights  and 
privileges.  But  the  Hessians  did  not  ask  their  permission, 
and  their  wishes  in  the  matter  were  not  consulted. 

The  quarters  of  the  fifty  yagers,  who  dressed  in  green 
with  lapels  of  crimson,  were  in  a  small  part  of  the  barracks 
which  had  been  built  during  the  French  and  Indian  war,  and 
which  were  situated  where  the  River  road  entered  Front 
street.      Their  duty  was  to  protect  the   canton   from   the 




direction  of  the  River  road.  A  large  number  of  the  yagers 
were  ahvays  out  at  the  picket  post  at  General  Philemon 
Dickinson's  country  seat,  about  a  half  mile  from  the  village, 
and  just  before  the  battle  fifty  yagers  were  placed  on  duty 
there,  where  they  occupied  the  house,  the  servants'  quarters 
and  the  barns.  A  part  of  this  house  still  stands  and  is  now 
the  homestead  of  the  Atterbury  estate  within  the  city  limits. 
The  barracks  referred  to  are  also  standing,  although  a  por- 
tion of  them  has  been  taken  down  for  the  purpose  of  extend- 
ing Front  street.  In  addition  to  the  yagers,  who  occupied 
them  for  a  short  time,  these  barracks  furnished  accommoda- 
tion to  the  families  of  refugee  Tories  from  Burlington  and 
Monmouth  counties,  which  were  seeking  the  protection  of 
the  Hessian  arms. 

The  detachments  of  artillery  were  quartered  in  the  ]\Ieth- 
odist  Church  on  Queen  street,  nearly  opposite  Church  alley, 
and  in  the  English  Church  on  King  street.  Each  of  the  three 
regiments  had  two  brass  three-pounder  guns,  and  during  the 


■first  three  or  four  days'  occupancy  of  Trenton  these"  six 
pieces  were  parked  in  the  graveyard  back  of  the  English 
Church.  They  were  afterward  placed  in  front  of  the  guard- 
house, which  still  stands.  This  guard-house,  then  owned  by 
Pontius  Delare  Stille,  was  the  next  house  north  of  the  church 
and  a  few  steps  from  Rail's  headquarters.  On  account  of 
the  narrowness  of  the  street  the  guns  were  placed  one -behind 
the  other  in  the  middle  of  King  street,  and  there  they  stood 
when  the  attack  on  the  town  commenced.  All  the  artillery- 
men wore  blue  coats  with  crimson  lapels  and  white  border. 

The  brigade  hospital  was  opened  in  the  parsonage  of  the 
Presbyterian  Church,  of  which  the  Reverend  Dr.  Elihu 
Spencer  was  pastor.  This  house  was  on  the  north  side  of 
Third  street,  now  Hanover,  and  was  about  one  hundred  feet 
east  of  Queen  street.  During  the  few  days  of  their  stay  at 
the  parsonage  the  Hessians  did  considerable  damage  to  the 
library,  furniture  and  sermons  of  the  pastor.  The  stable 
connected  with  the  parsonage,  and  the  fences  around  the 
parsonage  lot  and  the  burying-ground  surrounding  the  church 
were  used  for  firewood. ^ 

'  Hall's  History  of  the  Presbyterian  Church  in  Trenton,  New  Jersey, 
p.  266. 


About  this  time  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  and  Major 
von  Dechow  asked  Colonel  Rail  to  send  to  New  York  for 
more  clothing  for  their  regiments,  for  they  both  considered 
that  the  men  in  their  commands  had  not  sufficient  under- 
wear to  withstand  the  rigors  of  the  approaching  winter. 
But  Colonel  Rail  made  light  of  this  request,  and  remarked 
that  he  would  soon  run  barefoot  over  the  ice  on  the  river 
and  take  the  city  of  Philadelphia.  Turning  to  Major  von 
Dechow,  who  had  again  urged  the  necessity  for  more  cloth- 
ing, he  told  him  that  if  he  did  not  care  to  share  in  the  honors 
which  awaited  them,  he  might  immediately  retire  from  the 
post.  But  Scheffer  and  von  Dechow  were  much  depressed 
over  the  result  of  this  interview  and  the  careless  manner  of 
his  reply  to  their  request. 

The  next  day  Captain  Reinhard  Jacob  Martin  of  the  Hes- 
sian engineers  stopped  at  Trenton  on  his  way  to  Borden- 
town,  and  called  during  the  day  on  Lieutenant-Colonel  Schef- 
fer. In  the  course  of  this  visit  Major  von  Hanstein  and 
Major  von  Dechow  came  to  Scheffer's  quarters,  and  joined 
with  him  in  representing  the  unsafe  condition  of  Rail's  bri- 
gade. They  all  predicted  to  Captain  Martin  the  ruin  of 
these  three  regiments  unless  some  change  were  made,  and 
they  expressed  the  desire  to  be  relieved  from  the  responsi- 
bility of  such  a  calamity.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  com- 
plained that  many  of  his  men  were  without  good  shoes,  and 
that  their  clothing  was  not  suitable  for  a  severe  winter. 
Before  leaving  these  officers,  Captain  Martin  promised  that 
as  soon  as  he  had  completed  the  business  which  called  him 
to  Bordentown,  he  would  see  them  again  in  Trenton  on  his 
way  to  New  York,  and  take  a  letter  which  they  would  join 
in  writing  to    Lieutenant-General    Philip  von  Heister,  the 


commander  of  all  the  Hessian  troops  in  America.  This 
letter  was  accordingly  written,  and  a  copy  kept  by  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Scheffer,  which  document  finally  fell  into 
the  hands  of  the  Americans.  When  Captain  Martin  came 
back  to  Trenton  he  took  the  letter,  and  promised  to  inform 
General  von  Heister  personally  of  all  the  particulars  of  the 
situation  as  it  appeared  to  him.  He  remained  two  days  in 
Trenton,  because  he  feared  to  go  forward  on  the  road  to 
Princeton  without  an  escort.  However,  he  arrived  in  New 
York  on  the  afternoon  of  December  24,  and  sent  the  letter 
to  the  old  general  that  evening.  On  Christmas  day  he  called 
at  the  headquarters  of  General  von  Heister,  and  gave  him 
such  impressions  of  the  situation  as  he  had  obtained.  But 
although  the  general,  who  had  received  General  Howe's 
promise  to  relieve  the  regiments  by  the  middle  of  January, 
was  disposed  carefully  to  look  after  the  preservation  of  the 
troops  under  his  command,  it  was  then  too  late  for  him  to 
avert  the  impending  disaster. 

The  duties  of  the  Hessians  in  Trenton  were  varied  and 
severe.  While  it  would  have  been  proper  and  eminently 
wise  to  have  guarded  all  the  crossings  on  the  river,  there 
were  not  men  enough  in  the  command  to  be  spared  for  this 
duty.  Many  of  the  companies  (Captain  von  Altenbockum's 
company  is  mentioned  in  this  connection  in  German  re- 
cords) were  under  arms  three  successive  nights  and  then  off 
duty  for  one  night.  For  over  a  week  no  man  in  the  brigade 
passed  two  consecutive  nights  without  a  call  for  some  spe- 
cial service.  For  some  time  it  was  a  daily  custom  to  call 
for  extra  details  of  one  hundred  men  from  each  regiment. 
During  the  early  occupation  of  the  town  it  was  ordered  that 
at  four  o'clock  in  the  afternoon  all  the  companies  of  each 
regiment  should  turn  out  at  the  houses  where  their  respec- 
tive commandants  were  quartered,  stack  their  arms,  place  a 
sentinel  over  them,  and  that  each  man  should  then  go  to 
his  quarters  under  orders  to  remain  dressed,  with  belts  never 
loosened  and  only  leggings  removed,  until  daylight.  The  men 
could  not  stand  this  duty  long,  and  they  soon  began  to  sicken 



and  were  taken  one  by  one  to  the  hospital.  All  the  horses 
belonging  to  the  artillery  had  to  be  always  in  readiness  to 
be  hitched  to  the  light  guns,  and  the  harness  was  never  re- 
moved from  them  day  or  night  while  they  were  in  Trenton. 
Toward  the  last  days  of  the  Hessian  occupation  of  the 
village  the  duties  were  changed,  and  at  evening  parade  a 
regiment  was  put  on  duty  for  a  night  and  a  day.  In  this 
way  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  performed  the  duty  on  De- 
cember 23,  the  von  Knyphausen  on  December  24,  the  Rail 
regiment  on  December  25,  and  of  course  the  Rail  regiment 
was  still  the  regiment  "  of  the  day,"  and  was  under  arms 
when  the  surprise  occurred. 

The  picket  stations  of  the  Rail  brigade  were  six  in  num- 
ber,—  on  the  Maidenhead,  Pennington,  and  River  roads,  at 
the  Assunpink  Creek  bridge,  on  the  road  to  Trenton  Ferry, 
and  at  the  drawbridge  over  Crosswicks  Creek. 

The  principal  picket  of  the  Trenton  cantonment  was  at 


the  Fox  Chase  Tavern,  kept  by  Mrs.  Joseph  Bond,  "on  the 
Maidenhead  road,  now  Brunswick  avenue,  and  nearly  oppo- 
site to  what  is  at  the  present  time  the  head  of  Montgomery 
street.  It  consisted  of  one  commissioned  officer,  three 
under  officers,  and  about  seventy  men.  This  picket  did 
sentinel  and  watch  duty  in  the  town.  A  captain  was  always 
at  this  post,  on  duty  as  inspector. 

The  Pennington  road  picket,  comprising  one  corporal  and 
fifteen  men,  was  posted  at  the  house  of  Richard  and  Arthur 
Howell,  who  were  coopers  by  trade.  This  post  was  relieved 
from  time  to  time  from  the  Maidenhead  road  picket. 

The  picket  on  the  River  road  was  at  the  country  seat  of 
Brigadier-General  Philemon  Dickinson  of  the  New  Jersey 
militia,  and  was  about  half  a  mile  from  the  barracks  and 
from  ths  village.  General  Dickinson,  as  we  have  stated,  was 
on  the  opposite  side  of  the  river  with  some  of  his  militia, 
and  it  was  no  doubt  interesting  for  him  to  notice  through 
his  field-glass  the  movements  of  his  country's  enemies  as 
they  took  possession  of  his  hospitable  mansion  and  its  lovely 
surroundings.  It  is  said  that  on  one  occasion  General  Dick- 
inson- saw  the  Hessians  despoiling  his  wine  vault,  and  the 
temptation  to  send  a  shot  among  them  was  great ;  but  a 
sergeant  suggested  to  the  general  that  they  might  retaliate 
by  burning  his  house.  It  may  be  remarked  that  this  place 
was  purchased  July  30,  1776.  This  investment  was  therefore 
made  between  the  dates  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence 
and  the  battle  of  Trenton,  and  it  shows  the  confidence  of 
General  Dickinson  in  the  final  result  of  the  war  when  he 
placed  funds  in  a  property  which  lay  so  near  the  track  of 
contending  armies,  and  on  the  highway  between  two  great 
cities  which  were  the  objective  points  for  British  attack. 
The  picket  occupied  the  homestead,  the  servants'  quarters 
and  the  barns,  and  the  horse  of  one  of  the  British  dragoons, 
which  was  fastened  in  one  of  the  rooms,  left  there  the  im- 
print of  his  shoe,  still  to  be  seen  on  its  walls.  This  picket 
was  under  the  direct  control  of  the  yagers,  and  was  consid- 
ered fully  equipped  with  a  commissioned  officer  and  fifty 


men.  The  orders  at  this  post  were  to  withdraw  if  the 
rebels  fired  across  the  river  with  cannon,  and  if  the  Amer- 
icans attempted  to  cross  they  should  try  to  prevent  them, 
and  immediately  report  the  fact  to  Colonel  Rail's  head- 
quarters. They  were  required  constantly  to  keep  a  sharp 
lookout  on  the  river,  and  to  send  patrols  up  the  stream 
from  time  to  time.  The  picket  was  distributed  in  different 
places  about  the  grounds,  —  one  post  in  the  house,  one  in 
the  greenhouse,  one  in  the  vegetable  garden  down  by  the 
river,  one  in  a  hut  behind  the  barn,  not  a  great  way  from 
the  house,  and  the  fifth  some  little  distance  up  the  road. 
This  picket  consisted  of  a  sergeant  and  fifteen  men.  A 
daily  report  was  made  from  the  picket  post  to  Colonel  Rail 
direct,  and  patrols  were  sent  out  every  night.  Each  morn- 
ing three  or  four  British  dragoons  came  to  the  post  and 
examined  the  river  above  as  far  as  Yardley's  Ferry. 

A  sergeant  and  eighteen  men  constituted  the  picket  at 
the  Assunpink  Creek  bridge.  They  had  no  special  duties 
except  to  observe  who  passed  and  repassed  the  bridge, 
and  to  send  a  patrol  to  the  "  Doctor  House  "  on  the  river 
every  half  hour  during  each  night.  They  kept  a  sentinel  at 
Major  von  Dechow's  quarters,  a  square  up  Queen  street 
from  the  bridge,  another  on  the  north  side  of  the  bridge, 
and  a  third  at  George  Bright's  bakery  on  the  south  end  of 
the  bridge. 

The  picket  at  the  old  tavern  on  the  Ferry  road,  for- 
merly kept  by  Rensselaer  Williams,  was  composed  of  one 
commissioned  officer,  five  non-commissioned  officers  and 
twenty-two  men.  This  post  maintained  a  guard  at  Dr. 
William  Bryant's  residence  (the  "Doctor  House")  and  at 
the  Trenton  Ferry,  or  what  might  better  be  called  the  boat- 
landing  belonging  to  Patrick  Colvin.^  The  guards  posted 
quite  near  to  the  river  bank  were  forbidden  to  show  them- 
selves in  the  daytime,  as  whenever  they  did  so  in  any  num- 
bers, the  Americans  fired  at  them  from   a  battery  erected 

1  For  advertisements  in  reference  to  this  ferry,  see  At'chives  of  State 
of  New  Jersey,  2d  series,  vol.  i.  pp.  96,  138,  154. 


just  opposite  on  the  Pennsylvania  side  of  the  river.     These 
guards  were  always  relieved  after  dark. 

But  the  service  at  the  drawbridge  over  Crosswicks  Creek, 
four  miles  below  Trenton,  was  the  most  unpleasant,  because 
the  post  was  so  far  from  the  headquarters  of  the  command. 
It  was  established  for  the  purpose  of  keeping  open  the 
communication  with  Colonel  von  Donop,  but  it  appears  to 
have  protected  Colonel  von  Donop  rather  more  than  Colo- 
nel Rail,  from  whose  command  it  was  taken.  It  seems  as 
though  the  troops  at  Bordentown,  two  miles  below,  should 
have  taken  charge  of  this  picket  post,  but  it  fell  to  the  lot 
of  Rail's  brigade.  It  was  made  up  of  three  commissioned 
officers  and  one  hundred  men.  This  body  of  troops  was 
subdivided  into  four  stations,  —  an  officer  and  twenty-four 
men  posted  a  short  distance  from  the  drawbridge  on  the 
road  to  Allentown,  another  officer  and  thirty  men  about 
midway  between  Trenton  and  the  drawbridge,  one  officer 
and  twenty-four  men  one  mile  north  of  the  bridge,  and  the 
rest  of  the  force  at  the  drawbridge  itself.  The  senior  officer 
had  orders  to  retire  to  Bordentown  in  case  of  attack.  This 
picket  was  relieved  from  Trenton  about  ten  o'clock  in  the 
morning  every  other  day.  On  December  14  Colonel  Rail 
sent  Captain  Schimmelpfennig  with  the  von  Biesenrodt 
company,  and  Captain  Baum  with  the  body  company  of  the 
von  Knyphausen  regiment,  to  the  drawbridge  with  all  their 
baggage,  ordering  them  to  quarter  themselves  in  the  houses 
there,  and  to  keep  as  close  together  as  possible,  as  this  was  a 
section  of  the  country  where  the  feeling  toward  them  was 
not  fully  known.  They  had  been  there  but  a  short  time 
when  Colonel  von  Donop  sent  a  yager  to  warn  them  to  be 
on  the  lookout,  as  a  force  of  700  rebels  were  reported  to  be 
ranging  around  quite  near.  Colonel  Rail  did  not  relieve  this 
post  until  December  17,  when  they  returned  to  Trenton. 
The  houses  near  the  drawbridge  were  quite  far  apart  and 
surrounded  with  thick  woods,  which  concealed  them  from 
view.  This  frequently  left  the  rear  and  the  flanks  of  the 
picket  very  unsafe. 


The  orders  at  the  cantonment  of  Trenton  were  to  relieve 
the  guards  and  sentinels  at  nine  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and 
the  pickets  at  four  o'clock  in  the  afternoon.  Lieutenant 
Piel,  the  brigade  adjutant,  says  that  the  parade  took  place 
in  the  morning  at  eleven  o'clock,  and  that  the  parole  and 
countersign  were  given  out  at  four  o'clock  in  the  afternoon. 

It  was  not  the  custom  of  Colonel  Rail  to  visit  these  picket 
stations.  All  the  oflficers  unite  in  saying  that  while  they 
had  command  he  did  not  come  near  them  at  any  time. 

One  of  the  most  important  and  seemingly  singular  yet 
picturesque  displays  made  in  Trenton  during  this  period 
was  the  march  of  a  heavy  patrol  about  half  an  hour  before 
daylight  on  December  19,  under  command  of  the  staff 
officer  of  the  day,  from  the  Fox  Chase  Tavern  on  the 
Maidenhead  road.  This  patrol  went  down  Queen  street  to 
Church  alley,  where  it  was  joined  by  a  detachment  of  artil- 
lery with  two  cannon,  and  so  marched  over  the  Assunpink 
Creek  bridge  to  the  "  Doctor  House  "  and  Trenton  Ferry. 
This  party  was  called  the  watch-guard,  and  the  commanding 
officer  had  orders  not  to  attempt  the  capture  of  an  American 
detachment  unless  it  appeared  to  be  one  hundred  strong,  and 
then  to  do  so  without  fail.  It  appears  that  the  Americans 
had  alarmed  the  picket  before  daylight,  December  18,  and 
had  effected  a  landing  with  forty  men  under  the  protection 
of  the  guns  of  the  American  battery  opposite,  and  that  they 
had  plundered  and  burned  a  house  below  the  landing,  so 
that  this  early  morning  demonstration  was  deemed  the 
proper  military  movement.  Colonel  Rail  told  Captain  Mar- 
tin, who  has  been  previously  alluded  to  as  having  been  de- 
tained in  Trenton  for  two  days,  that  he  did  not  desire  to 
interfere  very  much  with  these  excursions  of  the  rebels,  as 
it  might  occur  that  at  some  time  Washington,  whom  he 
would  take  great  pleasure  in  capturing,  would  be  among 
them.  Lieutenant  -  Colonel  Scheffer  thought  these  trips 
across  Trenton  Ferry  were  part  of  a  general  plan  of  Wash- 
ington to  divert  Colonel  Rail's  attention  from  the  upper 
ferries.      He  considered  that  too  much  care  was  given  to 


Trenton  Ferry,  while  Howell's  Ferry  and  Johnson's  Fefry, 
although  equally  important,  were  neglected. 

Before  he  left  Trenton  for  Bordentown,  December  14, 
Colonel  von  Donop  instructed  Colonel  Rail  to  put  up  forti- 
fications on  the  Pennington  road  and  at  the  Trenton  Ferry, 
and  he  left  Captain  Georg  Heinrich  Pauli,  his  engineer  ofificer, 
and  Cornet  Carl  Levin  von  Heister,  of  the  Hesse-Cassel  body 
dragoon  regiment,  to  select  the  place. 

The  next  day,  in  company  with  Colonel  Rail,  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  Scheffer  and  other  officers.  Captain  Pauli  went  up 
to  the  high  ground  where  King  and  Queen  streets  join  with 
the  Pennington  and  Maidenhead  roads,  and  indicated  the 
place  where  a  redoubt  with  flanking  angles  for  cannon  should 
be  placed.^  The  party  then  rode  down  to  the  Trenton  Ferry, 
and  selected  for  another  small  fortification  an  elevated  spot 
near  the  bridge  over  a  little  stream  which  flowed  by  Dr. 
Bryant's  house.  It  was  thought  that  this  would  be  an  excel- 
lent place  to  which  to  retreat,  and  which  they  might  hold  for 
a  time  in  case  of  a  vigorous  attack  by  a  party  of  Americans 
from  the  Pennsylvania  side  of  the  river.  The  records  show 
that  Colonel  Rail  gave  his  approval,  of  both  localities,  and 
was  especially  pleased  with  the  one  at  the  head  of  King  and 
Queen  streets.  At  that  time  he  must  have  really  intended 
erecting  these  redoubts,  for  he  directed  Lieutenant  Engel- 
hardt,  of  Lieutenant-Colonel  Eitel's  Hessian  artillery  regi- 
ment, to  see  that  some  fascines  were  made  for  the  purpose. 
This  was  done,  but  they  were  never  used.  When  Captain 
Pauli  left  that  afternoon  for  his  station  at  Bordentown,  he 
told  Colonel  Rail  that  if  he  would  send  him  word  as  soon  as 
he  was  ready  to  begin  the  work  on  the  intrenchments,  he 
would  come  again  to  Trenton  and  superintend  their  erection. 
Captain  Pauli  reported  what  he  had  said  and  done  to  Colonel 
von  Donop,  but  Colonel  Rail  never  sent  for  him.  When 
Captain  Martin  passed  through  Trenton  a  second  tirne  on 
his  way  to  New  York,  he  bore  a  message  from  Colonel 
von  Donop  to  Colonel  Rail,  urging  upon  him  the  necessity 
^  The  spot  on  which  the  Battle  Monument  now  stands. 


of  immediately  fortifying  tiis  position  with  intrenchments. 
Colonel  Rail  told  Captain  Martin  that  he  did  not  think  it  at 
all  necessary,  as  the  rebels  were  such  a  miserable  lot.     In- 
deed, every  remark  of  the  officer^was  turned  into  ridicule.     It 
is  to  be  supposed  that  Captain  Martin  repeated  this  conver- 
sation to  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  and  Major  von  Dechow 
when  he  went  to  their  quarters  for  the  letter  which  he  had 
promised  to  take  to  General  von  Heister.     The  next  day,  in 
company  with  Lieutenant  Wiederhold  of  the  von  Knyphausen 
regiment.  Major  von  Dechow  went  to  Rail's  headquarters  on 
King  street,  and  in  the  presence  of  Lieutenant  Piel,  Rail's 
brigade  adjutant,  and  Lieutenant  ZoU,  the  adjutant  of  the 
von  Lossberg  regiment,  made  another  appeal  to  have  the  re- 
doubts erected.     Lieutenant  Wiederhold,  on  his  own  behalf 
and  that  of  Lieutenant  Fischer  of  the  artillery  detachment, 
offered  to  do  the  work  at  the  Trenton  Ferry.    Rail  exclaimed, 
when  thus  appealed  to,    "  Lasst   sie  nur  kommen  !     Keine 
Schanzen  !    Mit  dem  Bajonet  wollen  wir  an  sie!"     ("Let 
them  come  !    We  want  no  trenches  !    We  '11  at  them  with  the 
bayonet !  ")     The  major  did  not  allow  himself  to  be  content 
with  this  reply,  but  remonstrated  :  "  Herr  Oberst,  es  kostet 
ja    nichts  ;    hilft    es    nicht,    so    schadet    es    auch    nichts  !  " 
("  Colonel,  it  costs  nothing  ;  if  it  does  not  help,  it  can  do  no 
harm  !  ")     His  desire  was,  however,  never  gratified,  and  the 
lives  of  both  Rail  and  von  Dechow  paid  the  penalty  of  this 


It  is  very  singular  that  while  it  appears  that  Colonel  von 
Donop  was  always  anxious  to  receive  intelligence,  and  had 
men  paid  to  procure  it  for  him,  Colonel  Rail,  who  was  much 
nearer  the  main  body  of  the  American  force,  had  absolutely 
no  reliable  information  concerning  their  movements.  Lieu- 
tenant Piel,  his  brigade  adjutant,  distinctly  states  under  oath 
that  he  never  employed  any  spies  to  go  into  the  American 
camp.     In  this  the  Hessian  commander  was  surely  blamable. 

Colonel  Rail  had  a  very  poor  opinion  of  the  strength  and 
military  skill  of  his  foe,  and  said  that  they  were  "  nothing 
but  a  lot  of  farmers,"  of  no  account  whatever,  and  that  it 


was  of  no  possible  use  to  make  preparations  for  any  attack 
in  force  by  them.  So  stubborn  was  he  in  this  respect  that 
he  would  not  listen  to  advice  with  any  grace,  but  preferred 
to  do  what  seemed  best  to  himself,  acting  on  the  impulse  of 
the  moment,  rather  than  judge  which  was  the  best  of  all  the 
different  plans  laid  before  him. 

About  this  time  he  desired  to  have  more  troops  in  Tren- 
ton, probably  not  that  he  feared  an  attack,  but  that  he 
wished  to  increase  the  importance  of  his  command  and 
make  a  greater  display  in  the  village.  On  his  applying  to 
Major-General  Grant,  his  superior  officer,  at  Bruns\vick,  for 
additional  troops,  or  even  for  some  men  at  Maidenhead  to 
keep  open  the  communication  with  Princeton  and  Bruns- 
wick, his  opinion  as  to  his  safety  was  fully  confirmed  by  that 
officer's  reply :  "  Tell  the  colonel  he  is  safe  ;  I  will  undertake 
to  keep  the  peace  in  New  Jersey  with  a  corporal's  guard." 
It  is  thought  that  this  answer  went  far  to  make  Rail  care- 
less in  the  matter  of  fortifications  or  any  other  preparations 
for  the  enemy,  for  he  considered  that  if  they  were  not  dis- 
turbed, they  would  be  only  too  happy  to  remain  quiet. 

As  late  as  Christmas  day  Major  von  Dechow  called  Colo- 
nel Rail's  attention  to  the  baggage  and  the  supplies  of  the 
brigade,  and  urged  that  they  be  placed  in  some  safe  position 
against  any  sudden  attack.  But  the  colonel  somewhat  in- 
dignantly exclaimed :  "  The  rebels  will  not  come,  but  if  they 
do  and  can  take  me,  they  can  have  all  the  stores  and  the 
baggage  to  my  very  last  wagon.  If  they  come,  all  they  can 
hope  for  is  a  good  retreat."  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  of 
the  von  Lossberg  regiment  also  was  filled  with  the  greatest 
anxiety,  and'  worried  himself  sick  over  his  commander's  reck- 
less conduct. 

For  more  than  a  week  preceding  Christmas  the  American 
militia  were  hovering  in  little  detachments  around  the  posts 
at  Trenton  and  Princeton.  Indeed,  the  road  between  the  two 
villages  was  at  no  time  a  secure  march  for  British  troops. 

It  may  be  mentioned  here  that  on  the  21st  day  of  Decem- 
ber, in  expectation  of  a  winter  s  sojourn  in  South  Jersey,  six 


quartermasters  of  the  brigades  of  von  Donop  and  Rail  were 
sent  to  New  York,  under  the  protection  of  a  force  of  eighty 
Hessian  soldiers,  for  the  purpose  of  bringing  on  the  balance 
of  the  camp  equipage  and  baggage  of  the  two  commands. 
These  officers  were  Quartermaster  Heusser  of  the  von  Loss- 
berg  regiment.  Quartermaster  Miiller  of  the  von  Knyphausen 
regiment.  Quartermaster  Unger  of  the  von  Minnigerode 
regiment.  Quartermaster  Broste  of  the  von  Linsingen  regi- 
ment, Quartermaster  Fitz  of  the  Rail  regiment,  and  Quarter- 
master Wiederhold  of  the  Hessian  artillery.  They  went  to 
Brunswick,  and  then,  avoiding  the  direct  route  to  Perth 
Amboy,  they  passed  over  the  Raritan  River  to  Staten  Island 
and  so  to  New  York. 

On  December  24  Colonel  Rail  ordered  a  heavy  patrol  to  go 
to  Pennington,  a  little  village  eight  miles  distant  from  Trenton. 
One  detachment  started  in  the  morning  under  Major  Johann 
Jost  Matthaus  of  Rail's  own  regiment,  taking  the  direct  road 
to  Pennington.  The  other,  under  Captain  Adam  Christoph 
Steding  of  the  von  Lossberg  regiment,  went  by  the  River 
Road,  and  so  up  to  Johnson's  Ferry  and  across  to  Penning- 
ton. Each  column  consisted  of  one  hundred  men.  Lieu- 
tenant von  Grothausen  and  his  fifty  yagers  formed  one  half 
of  Captain  Steding's  detachment.  Colonel  Rail  himself, 
with  the  twenty  British  dragoons,  followed  after  Major  Mat- 
thaus on  the  Pennington  road.  The  major  did  not  find  any 
of  the  enemy  on  the  road  or  at  the  village.  Lieutenant  von 
Grothausen  and  his  yagers  marched  in  the  advance  of  Cap- 
tain Steding's  force,  and  came  across  some  thirty  Americans 
at  Johnson's  Ferry,  who,  as  soon  as  they  saw  the  yagers  come 
out  of  the  woods,  entered  their  boats,  and  rowed  out  into  the 
stream.  The  yagers  fired,  and  they  heard  afterward  that 
one  officer  and  two  men  had  been  wounded.  The  American 
artillery  fired  four  shots  at  the  yagers  from  the  Pennsylvania 
shore.  After  this  affair  Captain  Steding's  men  passed  on  to 
Pennington,  where  Colonel  Rail  and  Major  Matthaus  had 
been  waiting  for  them  for  two  hours.  The  entire  party  then 
returned  to  Trenton.     On  his  way  back  Major  Matthaus 


rode  by  the  side  of  Colonel  Rail,  and  talked  freely  to  him 
about  his  situation  at  Trenton.  He  proposed  to  Rail  to  put 
a  detachment  at  Pennington,  and  send  daily  patrols  to  John- 
son's Ferry  to  prevent  surprise.  But  Colonel  Rail  rejected 
the  plan,  asking  him  if  he  wanted  to  lose  a  detachment. 
"  Do  you  wish  to  go  there  yourself  ? "  he  asked,  and  Major 
Matthaus  replied,  "  If  I  am  ordered  to  go  there,  I  will  go  and 
do  my  duty." 

During  the  week  commencing  December  22  there  was 
much  gossip  in  Trenton  concerning  the  movements  of  the 
American  army.  One  day  a  resident  of  Bucks  County, 
whose  name  the  German  records  give  as  Mahl,  told  Colonel 
Rail,  in  the  presence  of  Lieutenant  Pifel,  that  he  would  cer- 
tainly be  attacked  at  an  early  day.  Rail  answered,  "  Let 
them  come."  The  next  day  two  deserters  from  the  Amer- 
ican army  confirmed  this  intelligence  to  Colonel  Rail,  Major 
Matthaus  and  Lieutenant  Piel  being  present,  and  told  him 
that  the  Pennsylvania  militia  were  gathering,  and  that  the 
army  had  orders  to  prepare  four  days'  rations.  Colonel  Rail 
did  not  believe  it. 

After  the  battle  of  Trenton,  Major  Matthaus  confidently 
asserted  that  he  had  reason  to  think  that  Colonel  Rail  had 
issued  letters  of  protection  to  people  whom  he  had  sup- 
posed to  be  wealthy  and  influential  in  and  about  Trenton, 
and  that  they  had  dined  at  his  table,  and  he  strongly  sus- 
pected that  many  of  these  people  were  American  officers  in 
disguise,  who  had  come  to  Rail  only  to  get  information  as 
to  his  position  and  condition. 

On  Monday  morning,  December  23,  at  eleven  o'clock. 
Lieutenant  Ernst  Christian  Schwabe  of  the  von  Lossberg 
regiment  met  on  King  street  Dr.  William  Bryant,  the  phy- 
sician, who  lived  on  the  Bloomsbury  Farm,  and  who  was 
seeking  Colonel  Rail.  But  Rail  could  not  be  found  that 
morning,  and  Dr.  Bryant  left  Lieutenant  Schwabe  with  the 
promise  that  he  would  return  later  in  the  day.  He  did  so, 
and  then  told  Colonel  Rail  that  he  had  just  heard  from  a 
negro  who  had  crossed  the  river  that  the  rebels  had  drawn 


rations  for  several  days,  and  were  about  to  attack  Trenton. 
"  This  is  all  idle!  it  is  old  woman's  talk,"  impatiently  an- 
swered Colonel  Rail.    Rut  the  doctor,  who  was  afraid  of  beinfj 

DR.    WILLI.-\M    bRVANl 

robbed  and  having  his  house  burned,  took  the  matter  more 

'  Dr.  Bryant  was  the  son  of  Captain  William  Bryant  of  Perth 
Amboy,  New  Jersey,  on  whose  tombstone  it  is  stated  that  he  made  fifty- 
five  voyages  across  the  Atlantic  Ocean.  His  daughter  Mary,  who  was 
noted  for  her  great  piety,  married  the  Hon.  William  Peartree  Smith  of 
Elizabeth  Town,  an  earnest  patriot,  a  member  of  the  Council  of  Safety, 
and  a  distinguished  scholar.  It  is  evident  that  the  brothers-in-law  Smith 
and  Bryant  took  very  different  sides  in  the  great  struggle  for  American 
independence.  —  Rev.  Dr.  John  Hall's  History  of  the  Presbyterian 
Church  in  Trenton,  Xew  Jersey,  p.  235. 


At  this  time  Washington  was  making  active  preparations 
for  a  simultaneous  attack  upon  all  the  king's  troops  on  the 
Jersey  side  of  the  river.  With  his  skeleton  bands  of  faithful 
and  true  soldiers,  mere  fragments  of  his  own  army  and  those 
of  Lee  and  Gates,  reinforced  by  some  militia  who  had  yet  to 
face  an  enemy,  he  proposed  as  a  desperate  resort  to  throw 
this  frail  body  of  men  on  the  drilled  soldiers  of  Hesse. 

The  gondolas  and  row-galleys  which  were  under  the  com- 
mand of  Commodore  Thomas  Seymour,  and  which,  during 
the  night  of  December  19,  had  been  ordered  down  the  Dela- 
ware River,  were  directed  to  move  up  as  far  as  Bordentown, 
which  they  did  in  the  midst  of  a  fierce  snowstorm  on  Mon- 
day, December  23,  and  were  then  stationed  along  the  river 
between  Bordentown  and  Burlington. 

On  the  evening  of  December  24  Washington  rode  over 
to  the  headquarters  of  Major-General  Greene,  at  Samuel 
Merrick's  house,  and  took  supper  with  him.  At  Greene's 
request  the  family  left  the  house  in  his  charge  that  night, 
and  there  appears  to  be  no  doubt  that  the  final  council  of 
war  was  held  that  evening  and  in  that  dwelling.  Generals 
Sullivan,  Mercer,  Lord  Stirling,  Colonel  Knox  and  other 
officers,  with  the  Reverend  Dr.  Macwhorter  of  Newark,  New 
Jersey,  were  at  the  table. 

During  the  course  of  the  meal  Lieutenant-Colonel  Harri- 
son and  his  brother  (both  military  secretaries  to  the  com- 
mander-in-chief) were  busily  engaged  in  transferring  the 
business  of  the  headquarters  of  the  army  from  Mr.  Keith's 
house  to  Newtown.  It  is  presumed  that  General  Washing- 
ton did  not  take  possession  of  these  new  headquarters  in 
person  on  Christmas  day. 

The  plan  adopted  at  the  council  of  war  was  substantially 


the  same  which  had  been  discussed  for  some  days  past. 
This  scheme  was  to  cross  in  three  different  places :  that 
Cadwalader's  division  attack  the  cantonments  at  Mount 
Holly,  Black  Horse  and  Bordentown ;  that  Ewing's  division 
cross  at  Trenton  Ferry,  take  position  on  the  south  side  of 
the  Assunpink  Creek,  and,  if  possible,  close  all  avenues  of 
escape  for  Rail's  troops,  and  prevent  any  reinforcement  from 
von  Donop ;  and  that  General  Washington  with  a  large 
detachment  of  the  main  army,  about  2400  strong,  make  the 
direct  attack  upon  the  garrison  at  Trenton.  The  style  of 
the  campaign  was  to  be  changed  from  defensive  to  offensive, 
and  if  any  advantage  was  gained  by  this  movement  Wash- 
ington proposed  to  follow  it  up  by  an  active  and  aggressive 
attack  upon  all  the  outposts  of  the  enemy.  With  his  own 
immediate  command  and  that  of  Ewing  in  possession  of 
Trenton,  while  Putnam  and  Cadwalader  forced  von  Donop 
out  of  his  cantonments,  the  entire  army  would  then  rapidly 
push  on  for  the  military  stations  at  Princeton  and  Brunswick. 

The  night  of  Christmas  was  chosen  for  the  crossing  of  the 
Delaware  River.  All  were  familiar  with  the  much  honored 
observance  of  the  Christmas  festival  by  the  Germans,  and 
they  relied  greatly  on  the  expectation  that  a  too  free  use  of 
intoxicants  on  that  day  might  to  some  extent  disable  the 
effective  force  of  the  enemy  and  make  the  watch  dull. 

Early  on  Christmas  morning  Washington  issued  his  order 
for  the  march  to  Trenton  in  the  following  words  :  — 

"Each  brigade  to  be  furnished  with  two  good  guides. 
General  Stephen's  brigade  to  form  the  advance  party,  and 
to  have  with  them  a  detachment  of  the  artillery  without  can- 
non, provided  with  spikes  and  hammers  to  spike  up  the  ene- 
mies' cannon  in  case  of  necessity,  or  to  bring  them  off  if  it 
can  be  effected,  the  party  to  be  provided  with  drag-ropes  for 
the  purpose  of  dragging  off  the  cannon.  General  Stephen 
is  to  attack  and  force  the  enemy's  guards  and  seize  such 
posts  as  may  prevent  them  from  forming  in  the  streets,  and 
in  case  they  are  annoyed  from  the  houses  to  set  them  on 
fire.     The  brigades  of  Mercer  and  Lord  Stirling,  under  the 


command  of  Major-General  Greene,  to  support  General  Ste- 
phen. This  is  the  2d  division  or  left  wing  of  the  army  and 
to  march  by  the  way  of  the  Pennington  road. 

"  St.  Clair's,  Glover's,  and  Sargent's  brigades,  under  Major- 
General  Sullivan,  to  march  by  the  River  Road.  This  is  the 
first  division  of  the  army,  and  to  form  the  right  wing.  Lord 
Stirling's  brigade  to  form  the  reserve  of  the  left  wing,  and 
General  St.  Clair's  brigade  the  reserve  of  the  right  wing. 
These  reserves  to  form  a  second  line  in  conjunction,  or  a 
second  line  to  each  division,  as  circumstances  may  require. 
Each  brigadier  to  make  the  colonels  acquainted  with  the 
posts  of  their  respective  regiments  in  the  brigade,  and  the 
major-generals  will  inform  them  of  the  posts  of  the  brigades 
in  the  line.  Four  pieces  of  artillery  to  march  at  the  head 
of  each  column ;  three  pieces  at  the  head  of  the  second 
brigade  of  each  division ;  and  two  pieces  with  each  of  the 
reserves.  The  troops  to  be  assembled  one  mile  back  of 
McKonkey's  Ferry,  and  as  soon  as  it  begins  to  grow  dark 
the  troops  to  be  marched  to  McKonkey's  Ferry,  and  embark 
on  board  the  boats  in  following  order  under  the  direction  of 
Colonel  Knox. 

"  General  Stephen's  brigade,  with  the  detachment  of  artil- 
lerymen, to  embark  first ;  General  Mercer's  next ;  Lord  Stir- 
ling's next ;  General  Fermoy's  next,  who  will  march  into  the 
rear  of  the  second  division  and  file  off  from  the  Pennington 
to  the  Princeton  road  in  such  direction  that  he  can  with  the 
greatest  ease  and  safety  secure  the  passes  between  Prince- 
ton and  Trenton.  The  guides  will  be  the  best  judges  of 
this.  He  is  to  take  two  pieces  of  artillery  with  him.  St. 
Clair's,  Glover's,  and  Sargent's  brigades  to  embark  in  order. 
Immediately  upon  their  debarkation,  the  whole  to  form  and 
march  in  subdivisions  from  the  right.  The  commanding 
officers  of  regiments  to  observe  that  the  divisions  be  eqiial 
and  that  proper  officers  be  appointed  to  each.  A  profound 
silence  to  be  enjoined,  and  no  man  to  quit  his  ranks  on  the 
pain  of  death.  Each  brigadier  to  appoint  flanking  parties  ; 
the  reserve  brigades  to  appoint  the  rear-guards  of  the  col- 


umns ;  the  heads  of  the  columns  to  be  appointed  to  arrive 
at  Trenton  at  five  o'clock. 

"  Captain  Washington  and  Captain  Flahaven,  with  a  party 
of  forty  men  each,  to  march  before  the  divisions  and  post 
themselves  on  the  road  about  three  miles  from  Trenton,  and 
make  prisoners  of  all  going  in  or  coming  out  of  town. 

"  General  Stephen  will  appoint  a  guard  to  form  a  chain  of 
sentries  round  the  landing-place  at  a  sufficient  distance  from 
the  river  to  permit  the  troops  to  form,  this  guard  not  to 
suffer  any  person  to  go  in  or  come  out,  but  to  detain  all  per- 
sons who  attempt  either.  This  guard  to  join  their  brigade 
when  the  troops  are  all  over." 

Immediately  upon  receipt  of  this  order  by  the  brigade 
commanders,  they  began  to  make  preparations  to  carry  out 
its  provisions.  Instructions  were  then  given  as  to  the  posi- 
tion in  line  and  the  part  each  organization  was  to  take  in 
the  demonstration  on  Trenton.  A  specimen  of  these  de- 
tails is  the  order  to  the  commanding  officer  of  the  Fourth 
Connecticut  Continental  regiment.^ 

The  last  of  the  correspondence  between  General  Grant, 
Colonel  Rail,  and  Colonel  von  Donop,  which  appears  among 
the  Hessian  archives,  prior  to  the  surprise  at  Trenton,  is  an 
interesting  letter  from  Grant  to  von  Donop  :  — 

Brunswick  24th  Dec.  1776 
past  eleven  at  night 
Sir  : 

I  have  been  favoured  with  your  letter  of  the  21st  which 
I  have  transmitted  to  General  Howe,  your  Intelligence  from 
the  Country  People  was  very  circumstantial  but  be  assured 
there  are  no  rebel  Troops  in  the  Jerseys,  they  send  over 
small  parties  from  twenty  to  thirty  men  at  a  time  and 
Colonel  Chambers  ^  of  Hunterdon  has  the  command  of  sev- 
enty or  eighty  near  Howell's  Ferry.  The  rebel  army  in 
Pennsylvania  consisted  of  8000  men  the  22nd  instant  which 

1  Part  ii.  No.  36. 

2  Colonel  David  Chambers,  Third  regiment,  Hunterdon  County,  New 
Jersey  militia. 


was  posted  at  Philadelphia,  Bristol,  opposite  to  Trenton  and 
as  far  as  Sherad's  Ferry,  their  greatest  force  between  Tren- 
ton and  Coryell's  Ferry,  the  day  I  mention  which  was  Sun- 
day last,  Sullivan,  Gates,  Arnold  and  Sterling  were  with 
Washington  at  his  Quarters.  Mifflin  was  then  in  the  back 
part  of  Pennsylvania  endeavouring  to  force  the  militia. 
Washington  has  been  informed  that  our  Troops  have  marched 
into  Winter  quarters  and  have  been  told  that  we  are  weak 
at  Trenton  and  princetown  and  Lord  Stirling  expressed  a 
wish  to  make  an  attack  upon  these  two  places.  I  don't 
believe  he  will  attempt  .it,  but  be  assured  that  my  informa- 
tion is  undoubtedly  true,  so  I  need  not  advise  you  to  be  upon 
your  guard  against  an  unexpected  attack  at  Trenton.  I 
think  I  have  got  into  a  good  line  of  intelligence  which  will 
be  of  use  to  us  all  and  I  have  the  honour  to  be 

Sir,  your  most  obed't  and  most  h'ble  servant 

James  Grant. 

General  Leslie  sent  word  to  Colonel  Rail  on  December 
23  that  General  Howe  had  refused  to  place  a  detachment 
at  Maidenhead,  as  Rail  desired,  but  that  he  would  send  a 
patrol  of  twenty-five  or  thirty  men  to  Trenton  twice  a  week 
if  Colonel  Rail  would  do  the  same  to  Princeton.  This  plan 
seems  to  have  been  agreed  upon,  as  General  Leslie  sent 
the  patrol  to  Trenton  the  next  day.  They  also  brought  word 
that  they  believed  an  attack  on  either  Trenton  or  Princeton 
was  imminent. 

In  their  statements  concerning  the  affair  at  Trenton, 
made  after  the  battle,  the  Hessian  officers  unite  in  severely 
blaming  Colonel  Rail  for  not  designating  any  alarm  places, 
where  each  regiment  should  muster  in  case  of  an  attack. 
Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer,  however,  had  designated  a 
place  by  the  English  Church  for  that  purpose,  and  as  the 
Rail  regiment  was  the  regiment  "  of  the  day,"  and  so  under 
arms  at  the  time  of  the  surprise,  it  does  not  seem  pertinent 
that  so  much  stress  should  be  laid  on  this  minor  delinquency 
of   the  commandant.     Lieutenant-Colonel   Scheffer  blames 

w      / 

V1    1 


him  for  not  designating  a  road  by  which  they  might  re- 
treat if  attacked  by  a  superior  force ;  but  Colonel  Rail  was 
an  officer  who,  although  well  fitted  for  making  an  assault, 
was  by  nature  ill-suited  to  defense,  and  retreat  and  defeat 
were  matters  to  which  he  refused  to  give  a  thought,  even 
though  the  hostile  party  might  be  numerically  overwhelm- 

-"^As  the  American  officers  had  anticipated,  the  Hessian 
troops  at  Trenton,  carelessly  confident  in  their  own  military 
strength,  entered  eagerly  into  the  Christmas  revelry  as  they 
did  at  home,  and  all  day  and  far  into  the  night  they  con- 
tinued their  merrymaking,  with  some  feasting  and  much 
drinking  with  the  people  of  the  town. 

"On  Christmas  morning  it  is  said  General  Grant  sent  a 
messenger  to  Colonel  Rail,  stating,  although  erroneously, 
that  a  small  detachment  under  General  Lord  Stirling  was 
hovering  near  him,  and  might  make  a  demonstration  on 
the  village  at  any  time  during  the  day.  This  admonition, 
which  would  have  put  a  more  careful  commander  on  strict 
watch  for  a  surprise,  had  little  effect.  The  colonel  rode 
around  the  outskirts  of  the  town,  visiting  some  of  the  guards, 
and  returned  quite  late  in  the  afternoon  to  his  headquarters 
on  King  street,  the  house  of  Stacy  Potts.  Here  he  started 
a  little  game  of  checkers  with  his  genial  host.  He  was  still 
playing  when  a  sound  of  firing  was  heard  from  the  northwest 
portion  of  the  town.  It  was  scarcely  more  than  a  single 
volley,  then  a  few  scattering  shots,  and  all  was  still ;  but  it 
raised  a  great  alarm  in  the  village.  This  was  between  seven 
and  eight  o'clock.  The  picket  on  the  Pennington  road  had 
been  attacked  by  a  party  of  Americans,  which,  they  said, 
consisted  of  forty  or  fifty  men.  They  came  out  "  in  front  of 
the  woods  "  on  the  road  which  led  to  Pennington  on  the  side 
toward  Birmingham,  and  retired  thence  to  Johnson's  Ferry. 
As  has  already  been  stated,  the  picket  consisted  of  a  corporal 
and  fifteen  men.  The  non-commissioned  officer  in  charge 
was  Corporal  William  Hartung  of  the  body  company  of  the 
von  Lossberg  regiment  (who  was  born  in  Elbingerod,  on  the 


Hartz  Mountains  in  Hanover.  He  was  twenty-six  years  of 
age,  and  had  spent  one  year  in  tiie  Hanover  cavalry  and  three 
years  in  the  von  Lossberg  regiment.  He  was  accounted  a 
good  and  rehable  soldier.  Seeing  that  the  numbers  of  the 
enemy  were  strong,  and  six  of  his  men  being  wounded, 
though  none  killed.  Corporal  Hartung  and  the  nine  men 
remaining  fell  back,  leading  and  carrying  their  wounded 
comrades,  to  Captain  von  Altenbockum's  company,  which 
was  quartered  about  a  gunshot  from  the  picket  post.^ 

As  soon  as  Captain  von  Altenbockum  heard  the  firing  he 
assembled  his  company  in  front  of  his  quarters,  and  sent 
one  half  of  them  toward  the  picket  station,  under  command 
of  Lieutenant  Georg  Christian  Kimm.  Shortly  afterward 
the  captain  himself  followed  with  the  rest  of  his  company. 
Meeting  Corporal  Hartung,  he  gave  him  eight  of  his  own 
men  and  sent  him  hastily  back  to  search  the  woods  for 
a  short  distance  about  the  picket  post.  When  Hartung 
reached  the  post  he  was  joined  by  six  yagers,  who  had 
hastened  across  the  fields  from  the  Dickinson  house  on  the 
River  road  to  find  out  what  had  happened.  These  twenty- 
four  men  made  a  careful  patrol  around  the  picket  station, 
but  the  enemy  were  not  to  be  found.  About  this  time 
Lieutenant-Colonel  Brethauer,  the  inspector  of  the  guard, 
hurriedly  came  up  to  the  picket  with  a  party  of  Hessian 
infantry  in  charge  of  Ensign  Friedrich  Franz  Grabe  of  the 
von  Lossberg  regiment,  probably  from  the  principal  picket 
at  the  Fox  Chase  Tavern  on  the  Maidenhead  road.  After  a 
brief  consultation  with  Captain  von  Altenbockum,  he  sent 
out  Ensign  Johann  Georg  Schroeder  of  the  Rail  regiment 
with  thirty  men  to  go  still  farther  on  the  road  and  endeavor 
to  find  the  hostile  party. 

In  the  meantime  the  town  was  in  an  uproar.  The  von 
Lossberg  regiment  had  gathered  at  their  company  quarters 
under  arms.     Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  being  ill,  his  com- 

'  The  names  of  two  of  the  wounded  men  were :  Fusilier  Ciriacus 
Wagner,  von  Borch  company,  and  fusilier  Wetter,  body  company, 
both  von  Knyphausen  regiment. 


mand  did  not  muster  at  this  time  as  a  regiment.  The  Rail 
regiment  formed  in  front  of  the  English  Church,  and  with 
Colonel  Rail  at  its  head  marched  up  to  the  high  ground  at 
the  junction  of  the  Pennington  and  Maidenhead  roads,  where 
it  awaited  further  orders.  The  von  Knyphausen  regiment 
on  the  lower  part  of  Queen  street,  and  the  von  Hanstein 
company  of  the  von  Lossberg  regiment,  on  the  south  side 
of  the  bridge,  also  gathered  at  their  quarters.  Major  von 
Hanstein  and  Major  von  Dechow  left  their  regiments  in 
charge  of  the  next  in  rank,  and  hastened  up  King  street 
after  the  Rail  regiment  to  find  out  the  cause  of  the  firing. 
When  they  came  up  to  Colonel  Rail,  Major  von  Hanstein 
remained  with  him,  but  Major  von  Dechow  urged  his  horse 
to  the  Pennington  road  picket.  There  he  met  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  Brethauer  and  his  men  and  Captain  von  Alten- 
bockum  and  his  company.  An  order  had  already  been  sent 
out  by  the  lieutenant-colonel  to  recall  Ensign  Schroeder, 
who  soon  appeared  with  his  patrol  and  told  the  officers  that 
he  had  been  about  two  miles  up  the  road,  but  that  the  search 
had  been  unsuccessful.  Lieutenant  Andreas  Wiederhold  of 
the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  with  ten  men  reinforced  the 
picket  post  at  Howell's  house,  increasing  its  strength  to  one 
commissioned  officer,  one  non  -  commissioned  officer,  and 
nineteen  men.  The  records  give  the  names  of  five  of  this 
reinforcing  party  as  fusiliers  Bicker,  Rupp,  Schmelz,  Stein- 
brecker  and  Zugreis,  all  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment. 

Captain  von  Altenbockum  and  Lieutenant  Kimm  and 
their  company  then  returned  to  their  quarters,  where  the 
guns  were  stacked,  the  men  staying  together  all  night  in 
the  two  houses  near  the  captain's  quarters  belonging  to 
John  Chambers  and  Warrell  Cottnam.  Leaving  Lieutenant 
Kimm  in  charge  of  his  men.  Captain  von  Altenbockum 
walked  down  the  Pennington  road  with  Lieutenant-Colonel 
Brethauer  and  Major  von  Dechow  until  they  met  Colonel 
Rail  and  his  regiment  at  the  head  of  King  street.  Here 
he  related  the  story  of  the  attack  on  the  picket.  Lieuten- 
ant Johannes  Engelhardt  of  the  artillery  was  near  Colonel 


Rail  when  Captain  von  Altenbockum  gave  his  report,  and 
he  afterward  stated  that  the  former  acknowledged  that  Gen- 
eral Grant  had  warned  him  that  a  party  was  wandering  near 
his  cantonment ;  he  also  said  he  thought  that  they  were  only 
a  few  farmers  collected  for  the  purpose  of  annoying  him,  and 
that  he  was  confident  he  could  whip  them  all  with  his  regi- 
ment alone.  Major  von  Dechow,  however,  was  deeply  con- 
cerned about  the  matter,  and,  according  to  the  statement  of 
Lieutenant  Carl  Ludwig  von  Geyso  of  the  von  Knyphausen 
regiment,  who  was  with  him  at  the  time,  urged  upon  Colonel 
Rail  the  propriety  of  immediately  sending  out  a  heavy  patrol 
to  all  the  ferries  and  up  the  roads.  But  he  was  answered 
that  it  would  be  time  enough  in  the  morning.  When  he 
left  Colonel  Rail,  Major  von  Dechow  gave  free  vent  to  his 
f eehngs  to  the  young  lieutenant,  and  said  he  feared  the  colo- 
nel would  get  them  all  in  trouble.  Major  von  Dechow  put 
sentinels  in  front  of  every  house  which  his  regiment  occupied, 
and  ordered  all  his  men  to  remain  therein  that  night  ready 
for  an  alarm.  The  other  regiments  also  were  dismissed  to 
their  quarters. 

Glad  to  be  once  more  indoors  and  sheltered  from  the 
storm,  the  men  gathered  around  their  fires  and  returned  to 
their  drunken  revels.  No  preparation  was  made  for  another 
attack,  and  no  baggage  of  any  kind  was  collected.  Lieu- 
tenant Jacob  Piel,  Colonel  Rail's  adjutant,  who  saw  him  at 
ten  o'clock  in  the  evening,  says  he  issued  no  special  orders 
for  the  night.  Lieutenant  Wiederhold,  who  was  then  in 
command  of  the  picket  on  the  Pennington  road,  states  the 
situation  clearly :  "  A  vigilant  officer  would  have  given 
orders  to  reconnoitre  all  the  roads  up  the  river,  and  the 
ferries,  either  to  find  all  quiet  or  to  find  the  enemy,  and  not 
to  come  back  until  the  fact  was  thoroughly  established." 

The  manoeuvre  of  this  little  scouting  party,  a  demonstra- 
tion which  might  have  proved  disastrous  to  General  Wash- 
ington's plans  for  the  next  day,  would  certainly  have  made  a 
prudent  officer  very  careful  to  keep  his  own  head  clear  and 
his  troops  well  in  hand,  especially  as  he  knew  that  the  foe 


was  always  in  sight  just  over  the  river  ;  yet  this  very  move- 
ment seems  to  have  removed  all  further  apprehension  from 
Colonel  Rail's  mind. 

The   attacking    party   consisted   of    about    thirty  men   of 
Stephen's  brigade.      History  differs  as  to  who  had  command 


of  this  little  force.  In  some  cases  it  is  given  to  Captain 
William  Washington,  but  he  was  not  in  Stephen's  brigade. 
There  is  more  reason  to  believe  that  it  was  the  company 
commanded  by  Captain  Richard  Clough  Anderson  of  Colo- 
nel Charles  Scott's  regiment,  Fifth  Virginia  Continental  line. 
The  subaltern  officers  of  this  company  were  John  Ander- 
son,   first   lieutenant  ;   William  Bentley,  second    lieutenant  ; 


Robert  Tompkins,  ensign.  It  seems  that  the  party  was 
scouting  through  Hunterdon  County,  without  General  Wash- 
ington's permission,  and  as  a  mere  adventure  drove  in  the 
picket,  wounded  six  men,  seized  their  firelocks  and  ammu- 
nition, and  hastened  away  to  join  their  regiment,  which  to 
their  surprise  was  then  crossing  the  river  into  the  Jerseys.^ 

It  is  said  that  General  Stephen  was  censured  by  General 
Washington  for  allowing  this  roving  party  to  be  in  New 
Jersey  at  that  time,  but  afterward,  when  the  commander-in- 
chief  found  that,  so  far  from  injuring  his  project,  the  little 
affair  had  given  Colonel  Rail  the  impression  that  the  attack 
which  General  Grant  had  predicted  had  been  made,  and  had 
failed,  his  reproof  was  changed  to  praise  for  the  brave  ex- 

After  this  incident  was  over,  and  his  troops  dismissed.  Colo- 
nel Rail  did  not  return  to  his  own  quarters  and  his  unfin- 
ished game  with  Friend  Potts,  but  dropped  in,  flushed  with 
his  fancied  success,  on  a  more  convivial  party,  whiling  away 
the  hours  of  Christmas  night  in  Abraham  Hunt's  parlor,  on 
the  northwest  corner  of  King  and  Second  streets.^ 

1  Part  ii.  No.  49. 

-  Abraham  Hunt  was  the  rich  merchant  of  the  village,  and  its  post- 
master. He  has  been  called  a  non-committal  man.  Patriots,  it  is  said, 
feared  that  he  was  not  ahogether  true  to  the  cause,  for  they  knew  that 
their  country's  enemies  ofttimes  partook  of  his  bounty.  He  has  fre- 
quently been  spoken  of  in  history  as  a  Tory,  but  it  is  never  asserted  that 
he  took  any  active  part  against  his  country.  On  the  contrary,  at  this 
very  time  he  held  the  commission  of  Heutenant-colonel  of  Colonel  Isaac 
Smith's  First  regiment,  Hunterdon  County  militia,  and  the  state  records 
do  not  show  any  stain  upon  his  honor  as  an  officer  and  a  soldier.  It 
has  never  been  stated  that  he  ever  claimed  protection  from  the  British. 
His  property  does  not  appear  to  have  been  confiscated,  which  would 
have  been  done  if  he  had  been  a  Tory,  and  he  certainly  was  in  the  full 
enjoyment  of  it  to  the  date  of  his  death,  long  after  the  close  of  the  war. 
He  also  retained  his  oiifice  as  postmaster  of  the  village  under  the 
national  government  for  many  years.  His  home  was  a  place  of  good 
cheer  for  every  guest,  and  in  after  years  he  married  that  most  patriotic 
lady.  Miss  Mary  Dagworthy,  who  was  so  busy  during  the  war  in  aid- 
ing the  sick  and  wounded  soldiers  of  the  American  army,  and  who 
strewed  flowers  in  Washington's  pathway  at  the  Assunpink  bridge,  as 



The  supper  party  at  Abraham  Hunt's  house,  no  matter 
what  the  host's  sentiments,  had  an  important  effect  upon  the 
ensuing  events.  Can  it  have  been  after  all  that  he  was  not 
a\'erse  to  seeing  the  Hessian  commander  utterly  unable  to 
perform   his    military   duties  ?     Certain    it   is  that   he  was  a 

A):raham  hunt's  house 

most  acti\'e  though  perhaps  unconscious  agent  in  bringing 
disaster  and  defeat  to  the  British  arms.      Tradition  says  that 

he  journeyed  toward  New  \'ork  to  assume  tlie  duties  of  president  of 
the  United  States.  The  Hon.  William  S.  Yard  of  Trenton,  New  Jer- 
sey, a  descendant  of  Benjamin  Yard,  who  was  an  iron-worker  and  gun- 
smith in  Trenton  in  1776.  has  in  his  possession  the  following  receipt: 
"  Received,  Trenton,  July  4th,  1776,  of  Abram  Hunt,  one  of  the  Com- 
missioners for  the  county  of  Hunterdon,  fifty-one  pounds  for  twelve 
muskets;  August  19th  received  fifty-five  pounds  thirteen  shillings  and 
si.xpence  for  fourteen  muskets:  21  Aug.  received  twenty-four  pounds 
seven  shillings  and  si.xpence  for  thirteen  muskets,  and  July  15th,  1777, 
received  one  pound  and  fourteen  shillings  for  seventeen  scabbards 
delivered  last  Summer.  Benjamin  Yard."  If  Abraham  Hunt  as  one  of 
the  commissioners  disbursed  government  funds  for  the  repair  of  arms 
July  4,  1776.  would  he  also  have  been  allowed  to  remain  in  the  same 
office  and  do  the  same  work  July  15,  1777,  if  he  had  shown  himself  a 
loj'alist  in  December,  1776  ? 


Plan  of  an  engagement  between  six  thousand  Americans,  with  fourteen 
cannon  and  two  howitzers,  under  command  of  General  Washington, 
and  a  brigade  of  Hessians  under  command  of  Colonel  Rail  at  Tren- 
ton on  the  26th  day  of  December,  1776. 


A.  Trenton. 

B.  Picket  of  i  officer  and  24  men. 

C.  The  7  picket  posts  placed  on  each  side  of  it,  of  which  No.  i  was 
the  right  wing,  and  had  connection  with  the  left  wing  of  the  captain's 
picket ;  the  one  marked  No.  7  was  the  left  wing,  and  had  connection 
with  the  yager  picket. 

D.  Route  made  by  the  patrol  of  the  officers'  picket,  and  which  always 
turned  to  the  left  to  the  yager  picket,  and  thence  uptown  to  the  captain's 
post,  and  from  there  back  through  the  chain  of  sentinels. 

E.  The  left  wing  post  of  the  captain's  picket. 

F.  The  right  wing  post  of  the  yager  picket. 

G.  Captain  von  Altenbockum's  company  of  the  von  Lossberg  regi- 
ment, which  formed  in  front  of  the  captain's  quarters  while  the  pickets 
were  engaged  with  the  enemy,  and  which,  when  they  fell  back,  moved 
towards  the  right  wing,  and  joined  with  that  in  the  charge. 

H.  Picket  of  i  captain,  i  non-commissioned  officer  and  75  men. 

I.  Picket  of  I  officer  and  50  yagers  who  retreated  at  once  across  the 

K.  Command  of  I  officer  and  30  men  who  fell  back  upon  von 
Donop's  corps. 

L.  Place  where  the  regiments  formed  and  received  their  orders. 

M.  Place  where  the  regiments  tried  to  rally  after  they  had  left  the 
city,  and  where  Colonel  Rail  with  his  own  and  the  von  Lossberg  regi- 
ment made  an  attack  upon  the  abandoned  city,  in  order  to  save  the 
baggage,  but  was  repulsed  and  driven  back  to  N. ;  and  there  were  made 
prisoners  of  war.  The  regiment  von  Knyphausen,  which  was  to  have 
covered  the  flanks,  had  likewise  to  fall  back,  and  tried  to  gain  the  bridge. 
This,  however,  they  could  not  reach  because  of  the  loss  of  time  occa- 
sioned in  trying  to  recover  the  von  Lossberg  guns  that  had  become 
stuck  in  the  swamp,  and  during  this  time  the  enemy  pressed  forward, 
and  captured  the  regiment  at  O. 

P.  Von  Lossberg  cannon  in  the  swamp. 

Q.  Von  Knyphausen  cannon  which  did  not  reach  the  regiment  dur- 
ing the  battle. 

R.  Rail  cannon  that  were  dismounted  at  the  beginning  of  the  en- 

S.  Attack  of  the  provincials  from  the  woods. 

T.  Junction  and  formation  of  provincials  in  line  of  battle  before  the 

U..  Stirling's  brigade,  which  pursued  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment. 
[St.  Clair's,  not  Stirling's,  brigade  pursued  the  von  Knyphausen  regi- 

W.  Last  movement  of  the  Americans. 

X.  American  guns  and  howitzers. 

Y.  Place  where  General  Washington  took  position  at  the  beginning 
of  the  fight  in  order  to  direct  the  battle. 

i     1 

(.too  »'^  <i'  a  ^f  •-/ 


'\A\j.,    .".    ,'.    A    c^   i,     ^-  ^^^  ,-''   ,''\  ;-•-- '^'%  "'^.  f 

,'A\    ,,      J-        <i''       ^'•='      «■'  a'"    o^      ^*»     ^''    »  9  ' 

°    „'-         Jo  ""o     ,     '   "  , 

4    ^"ll 

\\\\\\V':  ,'/ 



the  merriment  continued  all  the  night,  and  when  it  was 
nearly  dawn  poor  Rail  was  still  busy  with  his  cards  and 

During  the  night  a  Tory  farmer  from  Bucks  County,  Penn- 
sylvania, whose  name  the  German  records  give  as  Wall,  pos- 
sibly the  same  loyalist  called  Mahl,  who  had  visited  Colonel 
Rail  a  few  days  before,  came  into  the  town  in  great  haste, 
and,  not  finding  Rail  at  his  own  headquarters,  rapped  at 
Abraham  Hunt's  door,  and  asked  for  the  Hessian  colonel. 
The  negro  waiter  was  unwilling  to  have  the  jolly  party  dis- 
turbed even  at  that  hour,  and  he  refused  to  admit  him. 
Hurriedly  writing  a  few  lines,  giving  Colonel  Rail  the  move- 
ments of  the  American  army,  the  farmer  sent  it  in  by  the 
servant,  and  left  the  door  with  a  clear  conscience,  feeling 
that  he  had  done  his  duty  as  a  loyal  subject  to  the  English 
king.  But  Rail,  who  was  in  no  condition  to  trouble  himself 
with  the  contents  of  a  note  perhaps  addressed  quite  care- 
lessly, put  it  into  his  vest  pocket  without  a  thought  that  his 
life  must  pay  the  penalty  for  this  apparently  trivial  act.  And 
the  shuffling  of  the  cards  went  on,  dealing  out  golden  mo- 
ments of  his  life.^ 

On  examining  the  map  herein  inserted,  a  copy  of  the  ori- 
ginal on  file  in  the  king's  state  archives  at  Marburg,  Ger- 
many, and  which  was  prepared  by  Lieutenant  Jacob  Piel  of 
the  von  Lossberg  regiment,  brigade  adjutant  to  Colonel  Rail, 
the  picket  posts  of  the  Hessian  force  about  Trenton  can  be 

1  Frank  Forester  has  given  us  a  vivid  pen  picture  of  this  roistering 

party :  — 

"  Soldiers,  spread  the  Christmas  feast ; 

Soldiers,  fill  the  bumper  fair ; 
Pass  the  bottle,  pile  the  hearth, 

Cutting  cold  the  wintry  air  ! 
Let  the  toast  our  country  be, 

From  whatever  country  we  ! 
Sons  of  German  Fatherland, 

Britons  ever  bond  and  free. 
Comrades,  troll  the  jolly  stave, 

Pass  the  bottle,  fear  no  wrong  ! 
For  the  rebel  hosts  are  weak, 

And  the  wintry  river  strong  I  " 







^    ai 

"""""V "''' 



I  KI) 






ii'liii'  f 







I         "■"'"■"ip-     *•*'•"", 


'>-    <«3 

■^^g^t-  J"^' 

1  '> " 



n"l iflll""!,,, 





"1        Ouici      J^ 




\.  T  V^'  XJf'^rvrruyry 

"f  ^ 



,^'  T"i""u; 

J  '"^i 

'4  ,„,n'' 


.A  M    ^HlBiW 

t    i-  3l  1." 

i   0 





X  2_ 

.  -^      ,u 

,V  '//> 



The  affair  at  Trenton  which  occurred  December  26,  1776,  between  one 
corps  of  rebels  of  six  thousand  men  under  command  of  General 
Washington  and  one  brigade  of  Hessians  under  command  of  Colonel 


A.  Trenton. 

B.  Picket  of  i  officer  and  24  men. 

C.  Captain  von  Altenbockum's  company  of  the  von  Lossberg  regi- 
ment, which  was  quartered  in  this  neighborhood,  and  which  was  charged 
by  the  enemy  while  doing  picket  duty. 

D.  Picket  of  i  captain,  i  non-commissioned  officer  and  75  men. 

E.  I  officer  and  50  yagers  who  retreated  over  the  bridge  at  once. 

F.  Command  of  i  officer  and  30  men  who  retired  to  von  Donop's 

G.  Place  of  original  formation  of  the  regiments. 

H.  Place  where  the  regiments  stood  after  leaving  the  city,  and  where 
Rail  intended  to  make  an  attack  on  the  city  with  his  own  and  the  von 
Lossberg  regiments,  but  failed  to  do  it. 

1.  Place  of  repulse  and  capture  of  the  regiments;  in  the  meantime 
the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  was  to  have  covered  the  flank. 

K.  Where  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment,  which  sought  to  hold  pos- 
session of  the  bridge,  had  the  misfortune  to  have  the  von  Lossberg 
cannon,  which  were  with  them,  stick  in  the  morass,  and  in  the  work 
necessary  to  get  them  out,  lost  the  opportunity  of  taking  the  bridge, 
which  was  now  too  strongly  guarded,  and  they  were  compelled  to  sur- 

L.  Von  Lossberg  cannon. 

M.  Von  Knyphausen  cannon  which  during  the  affair  did  not  reach 
their  regiment. 

N.  Rail  cannon  which  were  silenced  at  the  beginning  of  the  fight. 

O.  Attack  of  the  rebels  from  the  woods. 

P.  Advance  and  surrounding  of  the  city  by  the  same  force. 

Q.  Two  battalions  of  the  same  force  which  pressed  on  toward  the 
von  Knyphausen  regiment. 

R.   Last  manoeuvre  and  attack  of  the  same  force. 

S.  Rebel  cannon. 

T.  Place  where  General  Washington  stood  and  gave  his  orders. 


readily  ti'aced.^  Another  map  of  the  same  general  character 
was  prepared  by  Lieutenant  Andreas  Wiederhold '■'  of  the 
von  Knyphausen  regiment,  the  ofificer  who  commanded  the 
Pennington  road  picket  on  Christmas  night  ;  and  a  third, 
differing  slightly  from  the  other  two,  was  made  by  Lieuten- 
ant Friedrich  Fischer  ^  of  the  Hessian  artillery.  All  of  these 
maps  will  be  of  interest  to  those  who  are  familiar  with  the 
streets  of  Trenton  as  they  are  to-day,  and  their  authenticity 
is  proven  by  the  fairly  accurate  position  of  the  English 
Church,  the  Presbyterian  Church,  the  barracks,  and  the  As- 
sunpink  Creek.* 

Still  another  map  of  the  same  general  character  may 
be  found  in  the  "  Collections  of  the  New  York  Historical 
Society  "  for  the  year  1882,  facing  page  200.  This  map  was 
"copied  in  the  month  of  January,  1781,  in  North  America 
and  on  York  Island,"  by  Lieutenant  Carl  van  Kraft  of  the 
Hessian  regiment  von  Bose.  As  this  officer  was  not  at  the 
battle  of  Trenton,  it  has  been  thought  unnecessary  to  insert 
herein  a  copy  of  his  map. 

On  Christmas  night  the  Rail  regiment  was  the  regiment 
"  dn  jour,"  the  regiment  to  remain  on  duty  and  under  arms 
for  twenty-four  hours  or  until  the  parade  at  eleven  o'clock 
on  the  morning  of  December  26.  The  men  of  this  regiment 
were  not  allowed  to  take  off  any  portion  of  their  uniform 
clothing  at  night,  and  were  only  permitted  to  unbutton  their 
leggings  and  lay  aside  their  cartouches. 

Again  looking  across  the  river  at  the  American  army,  we 
refer  to  the  last  hours  before  the  actual  crossing  of  the  Del- 
aware River.  General  Washington  dispatched  an  express 
rider  to  the  hospital  at  Bethlehem  to  summon  Dr.  Shippen 
and  his  assistants  to  join  the  army  at  once.  He  evidently 
anticipated  a  severe  conflict.  Some  of  the  regiments  which 
had  been  assigned  to  take  part  in  the  attack  on  Trenton 
began  to  march  at  about  two  o'clock  in  the  afternoon  of 

1  See  p.  124.  ^  See  p.  126.  ^  See  p.  128. 

*  For  personnel  of  outposts  of  Trenton,  December  24,  1776,  see  Part 
ii.  No.  SS- 


Battle  of  Trenton,  December  26,  1776,  between  American  Provincial 
troops  under  the  command  of  General  Washington,  and  three  regi- 
ments of  Hessians  under  the  command  of  Colonel  Rail,  where  a  part 
of  the  latter  force  was  compelled  to  surrender  as  prisoners  of  war. 


A.  Advance  of  the  provincial  troops  from  John's  [the  American 
force  did  not  cross  at  Johnson's,  but  at  McKonkey's]  Ferry  in  two 

B.  Advance  on  picket  a  and  Captain  von  Altenbockum's  company  b. 

C.  Attack  on  Trenton  after  the  retreat  of  the  picket  and  Captain  von 
Altenbockum's  company,  and  also  the  captain's  picket  c,  to  Trenton. 

D.  March  of  the  provincial  troops  in  battalion  formation. 

E.  March  of  the  Hessian  regiments  after  leaving  Trenton. 

F.  Attack  of  the  von  Lossberg  and  Rail  regiments  on  Trenton. 

G.  Provincial  troops  guarding  the  bridge. 

H.  Retreat  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  at  the  time  of  the  attack 
on  the  von  Lossberg  and  Rail  regiments. 

J.  Surrender  of  the  von  Lossberg  and  Rail  regiments. 

K.  Attack  on  J  by  the  provincial  troops. 

L.  Attack  on  H  after  the  surrender  of  the  von  Lossberg  and  Rail 

M.  Provincial  artillery. 

N.  Rail  cannon  which  were  at  once  silenced. 

R.  Von  Knyphausen  cannon. 

S.  Von  Lossberg  cannon. 

T.  Commands  which  retreated  to  Burlington. 

(Note.  This  map,  in  some  particulars  the  best  of  the  series,  has  one 
error.  There  was  no  church  near  the  creek,  in  the  line  of  march  of 
the  von  Knyphausen  regiment,  near  K.) 


Christmas  day,  and  by  three  o'clock  all  of  the  troops  ordered 
on  this  expedition  were  in  motion  toward  the  river.  General 
Washington  gave  orders  that  the  watch  of  every  officer 
should  be  set  by  his  own.  Speaking  of  his  men  on  that  day, 
he  said,  "  Many  of  our  poor  soldiers  are  quite  barefoot  and 
ill-clad,"  and  Major  Wilkinson  tells  us  in  his  "Memoirs"^ 
that  their  "  route  was  easily  traced,  as  there  was  a  little  snow 
on  the  ground,  which  was  tinged  here  and  there  with  blood 
from  the  feet  of  the  men  who  wore  broken  shoes."  Each 
man  was  provided  with  three  days'  cooked  rations  and  forty 
rounds  of  ammunition,  and  the  troops  were  therefore  ready 
to  push  on  and  follow  up  any  advantage  that  they  might 
gain,  if  such  a  course  were  deemed  prudent. 

It  was  confidently  expected  that  all  the  infantry,  and  a 
few  companies  of  cavalry  and  artillery,  with  eighteen  cannon 
and  howitzers,  might  be  ferried  over  by  midnight,  and  so 
have  the  five  hours  until  daybreak  in  which  to  march  to 
Trenton.  The  Durham  boat  was  the  ordinary  means  of  trans- 
porting merchandise  on  the  Delaware  River,  and  of  even 
sending  iron  ore  from  Oxford  Furnace,  in  old  Sussex  County, 
New  Jersey,  to  the  market  at  Philadelphia  during  the  forty 
years  before  and  after  the  beginning  of  this  century.^  A 
number  of  these  boats  had  been  carefully  collected  by 
men  employed  by  Colonel  Humpton  of  the  Pennsylvania 
Continental  line.  For  the  last  ten  days  Captain  Jacob  Gear- 
hart,  Captain  Daniel  Bray  and  Captain  Thomas  Jones,  all 
officers  of  the   Second  regiment,  Hunterdon  County,  New 

1  Vol.  i.  p.  127. 

2  These  boats  were  like  large  canoes,  some  thirty  or  forty  feet  long, 
usually  painted  blaclc,  pointed  at  each  end,  and  manned  by  four  or  five 
boatmen.  A  steering  oar  adjustable  at  either  end  gave  employment  to 
one  man  on  the  down  stream  trip,  which  was  from  Robeson's  Ferry 
wharf  near  the  Furnace  to  the  city  of  Philadelphia.  This  was  a  two 
days'  journey,  but  it  took  at  least  five  days  of  hard,  pole  pushing  by 
four  men  to  get  it  back  again  to  the  ferry  wharf,  loaded  as  it  was  with 
provisions  for  men  living  near  the  upper  waters  of  the  Delaware.  In 
revolutionary  days  there  were  about  forty  of  this  kind  of  craft  on  the 

I  30 


Jersey  militia,  had  been  busily  employed  in  gathering  all 
the  boats  of  every  kind  on  the  upper  waters  of  the  Delaware 
and  Lehigh  ri\'ers,  and  hiding  them,  with  those  previously 
collected,  behind  the  thick  woods  on  Malta  Island,  close  to 
the  west  bank  and  at  the  mouth  of  Knowles's  Creek,  where 
the)'  were  entirely  hidden  from  the  Jersey  shore.  These 
boats  had  been  kept  under  careful  guard,  and  were  now 
brought  down  some  two  miles  to  McKonkey's  Ferry,  the 
selected  place  for  the  crossing.^ 

All    day  Monday  and  Tuesday  the   Delaware   River   was 
clear  of  ice,  but  before  noon  on  Wednesday,  the  25th,  it  was 

full  of  floating  cakes  of  ice, 
not  very  thick,  however, 
from  some  of  its  upper 
branches,  which  had  been 
frozen  by  the  intense  cold 
of  December  20.  The  cur- 
rent was  swift  and  danger- 
ous, and  the  weather  cheer- 
less and  cold. 

As  soon  as  it  became 
dark,  the  troops  came  down 
to  the  river  bank,  ready  to 
pass  over.  General  Wash- 
ington, who  was  on  horse- 
back, eagerly  watched  the 
boats,  as  they  iiushed  off  one  by  (jne  freighted  with  men 
who  were  to  strike  a  desperate  blow  for  the  liberty  of  their 
country,  or  receive  a  crushing  defeat  from  their  hireling 
foes.  Some  deep,  all-pervading  spirit  of  patriotism  must 
have  burned  in  the  breasts  of  these  men  to  have  made  them 
underszo  the  sufferings  of  that  awful  night.      Their  devotion 

M.\JfiR  i.l..sLK.\L    H<JK.\riu    GATES 

'  An  affidavit  of  John  Clifford  on  file  in  the  War  Department,  Wash- 
ington, D.  C,  states  that  he  assisted  Captain  Bray  in  gathering  twenty- 
five  boats,  and  that  the  party  met  at  Baptisttown.  Hunterdon  County, 
New  Jersey,  about  three  miles  from  the  Delaware  River,  to  make  their 
plans  for  that  object. 



in  that  hour  to  an  ahnost  hopeless  cause  appears  now  to  the 
student  of  history  as  subhme.  It  was  with  some  impatience 
tliat  Washington  read  a  few  hnes  from  General  Gates,  who 
had  reported  himself  sick,  but,  as  his  aide,  Major  Wilkinson, 
confessed,  was  even  then  on  his  way  to  Congress  at  Balti- 
more to  intrigue  in  his  own  favor  and  against  his  chief,  in- 
stead of  having  assumed  the  command  at  Bristol.  General 
Washington  had  entreated  him  to  take  charge  of  this  post, 
saying,  "  if  you  could  only  stay  there  two  or  three  days,  I 


should  be  glad,"  but  the  entreaty  was  of  no  avail.  General 
Gates  had  evidently  lost  some  of  his  faith  in  the  cause,  and 
was  willing  to  absent  himself  from  the  post  of  duty,  of  dan- 
ger, and  of  honor. 

1  This  monument  bears  the  foUowint;  inscription:  •' Near  this  spot 
Washington  crossed  the  Delaware  on  Christmas  niglit,  1776,  the  eve 
of  the  battle  of  Trenton." 


Before  crossing  the  ri\-er,  General  Washington  wrote  to 
Colonel  Cadwalader  at  Bristol  :  — 

McKonkey's  Ferky  25th  Decemf  1776 
Six  o'clock  p.  M. 
Dear  Sir  : 

Notwithstanding  the  discouraging  Accounts  I  have  re- 
ceived from  Col.  Reed  of  what  might  be  expected  from  the 
C)perations  below,  I  am  determined,  as  the   Night  is  favour- 

criLoNEL  John   glover 

able,  to  cross  the  Ri\-er  and  make  the  attack  upon  Trenton 

in  the  Morning,  If  you  can  do  nothing  real,  at  least  create  as 

great  a  diversion  as  possible. 

I  am  Sir 

Yr.  most  ob'  Serv' 

Go  Washixgton. 
Cor.  Cadwalader  ' 

'  From  original  in  possession  of  Charles  E.  Cadwalader  of  Philadel- 
]"ihi.-i.  Pennsylvania. 




The  jagged  ice  floated  swiftl}'  by,  and  struck  the  boats  so 
severely  that  they  could  be  handled  only  with  the  greatest 
difficulty.  About  eleven  o'clock  a  severe  storm  of  mingled 
snow  and  hail  set  in,  and  with  the  high  wind  rendered  it  a 
dark,  cold  and  dismal  night.  Thomas  Rodney  writes  :  "  It 
was  as  severe  a  night  as  I  ever  saw.  The  frost  was  sharp, 
the  current  difficult  to  stem,  the  ice  increasing,  the  wind 
high,  and  at  ele\'en  it  began  to  snow.  It  was  only  with  the 
greatest  care  and  labor  that  the  horses  and  the  artillery 
could   be   ferried   over  the   river."     Had   not   Colonel    John 


Glover's  splendid  regiment  of  seafaring  men  from  Marble- 
head,  Massachusetts,  lent  a  willing  and  skillful  hand,  as  he 
had  promised  they  would,  the  expedition  would  no  doubt 
have  failed.  These  sailors  and  fishermen,  armed  with  rifles, 
clad  in  blue  round-jackets  and  trousers  with  large  leather 
buttons  attached,  were  then,  as  they  had  been  in  New  York 
harbor  early  in  the  morning  of  August  30,  when  the  retreat 
was  made  from  Long  Island,  the  men  on  whom  all  relied  to 
see  the  army  safely  landed.^ 

Soon  after  Stephen's  brigade  had  reached  the  left  bank 
of  the  river,  and  had  formed  a  chain  of  sentries  around  the 
landing-place,  Washington  dismounted,  and  with  his  lieuten- 
ants around  him  crossed  to  the  Jersey  shore.  This  scene  has 
been  immortalized  by  the  famous  picture  of  Emanuel  Leutze, 
so  full  of  vigor  and  animation,  but  so  faulty,  so  very  inaccu- 
rate in  detail.  Captain  John  Blunt  of  Portsmouth,  who  had 
sailed  in  and  out  of  all  the  harbors  on  the  coast  between 

1  From  Lorenzo  Sabine's  report  on  the  fisheries  we  take  the  follow- 
ing extract  of  a  speech  made  by  General  Knox  in  the  legislature  of 
Massachusetts,  and  in  which  the  conduct  of  these  men  is  faithfully  de- 
picted :  "  Sir !  I  wish  the  members  of  this  body  knew  the  people  of 
Marblehead  as  well  as  I  do.  I  could  wish  they  had  stood  on  the  banks 
of  the  Delaware  river  in  1776  in  tliat  bitter  night  when  the  Commander- 
in-Chief  had  drawn  up  his  little  army  to  cross  it,  and  had  seen  the 
powerful  current  bearing  onward  the  floating  masses  of  ice,  which 
threatened  destruction  to  whosoever  should  venture  upon  its  bosom. 
I  wish  that  when  this  occurrence  threatened  to  defeat  the  enterprise 
they  could  have  heard  that  distinguished  warriour  demand,  '  Who  will 
lead  us  on  ? '  and  seen  the  men  of  Marblehead  and  Marblehead  alone, 
stand  forward  to  lead  the  army  along  the  perilous  path  to  unfading 
glories  and  honours  in  the  achievements  of  Trenton.  There,  Sir,  went 
the  fishermen  of  Marblehead,  alike  at  home  upon  land  or  water,  alike 
ardent,  patriotic  and  unflinching  whenever  they  unfurled  the  flag  of  the 
country."  Alexander  Graydon,  in  his  Memoirs,  refers  to  this  regiment 
in  the  following  words :  "  There  was  an  appearance  of  discipline  in  this 
corps :  the  officers  seemed  to  have  mixed  with  the  world  and  to  under- 
stand what  belonged  to  their  stations.  Though  deficient,  perhaps,  in 
polish,  it  possessed  an  apparent  aptitude  for  the  purpose  of  its  institu- 
tion and  gave  a  confidence  that  myriads  of  its  meek  and  lowly  brethren 
were  incompetent  to  inspire." 


Hill  'Ml  iMWWiWt'pi'WBW 

^ .c^ /-X ' '''MIX — . ^  ^     \   %' 

Bro7iZi'  Tablet  oh  the   7r€Hto7!  Batth:  Jfonniiwiit 

Portsmouth  and  Philadelphia,  and  who  was  familiar  with 
the  na\'igation  of  the  Delaware  River,  was  very  active  and 
conspicuous  in  guiding  the  boats  so  preciously  freighted. 
Lieutenant  Ciithbert  of  Captain  Moulder's  battery  of  Phil- 
adelphia also  ably  assisted  him.-' 

Colonel  Kno.\,  the  artillerist,  stood  on  the  river  bank, 
repeating  General  Washington's  orders  as  long  as  they  re- 
mained on  the  I-'ennsylvania  shore,  and  amid  all  the  storm 
and  darkness  his  powerful  voice  rang  out,  directing  the  move- 

'  Captain  Blunt  was  a  .shipma.ster,  born  in  New  Castle,  New  Hamp- 
shire; and  in  April,  1775,  when  about  forty  years  of  age,  he  commanded 
the  schooner  Cornucopia,  which  sailed  from  Portsmouth,  New  Hamp- 
shire, lor  Alexandria,  Virginia,  and  continued  to  trade  during  the  rest 
of  that  year  with  other  ports  in  Virginia  and  on  the  Delaware  River, 
After  the  return  of  his  vessel  to  Portsmouth  in  the  spring  of  1776  it  is 
thought  that  he  attached  himself  to  Colonel  (Clover's  marine  regiment, 
about  the  time  when  the  colonel  was  the  agent  for  the  Continental 
armed  vessels,  of  wdiich  Portsmouth.  Marblehead  and  New  Castle  fur- 
nished a  considerable  number.  He  came  from  the  same  section  of 
New  Hampshire  as  General  Sullivan,  and  no  doubt  that  officer  knew 
the  value  of  his  services  at  this  critical  hour. 



ments  of  the  boats.  It  is  difficult  to  estimate  the  important 
service  which  he  thus  ga\'e  toward  the  success  of  the  enter- 

All  the  officers  with  General  Washington  were  gloomy  and 
despondent,  as  they  crossed  the  river,  but  he  for  once  in- 
dulged in  a  little  pleasantry  at  the  expense  of  Colonel  Knox, 


which  greatly  amused  that  officer,  and  put  the  rest  of  the 
officers  in  the  best  of  humor  when  the  story  was  told  them. 

After  crossing  the  river,  and  before  his  horse  had  reached 
him,  General  Washington,  seated  on  a  box  once  used  as  a 
beehive,  was  silent,  undisturbed,  his  mind  filled  with  anxious 
thought,  with  high  resolve,  with  desperate  earnestness,  and, 

^  We  find  that  Samuel  Breck.  in  his  Recolhttions,  uses  these  words, 
when  speaking  of  Colonel  Knox:  "His  voice  was  a  deep  bass  and  re- 
sounded through  the  camp,  when  exercising  the  artillery  of  which  he  was 
general,  in  tones  of  audil^le  command.  When  on  the  left  bank  of  the 
Delaware,  as  represented  in  Sully's  historical  picture  of  the  passage  of 
that  river  on  Christmas  day,  preparatory  to  the  attack  on  Trenton,  his 
stentorian  voice  was  heard  above  the  crash  of  ice  which  filled  the  river 
with  floating  cakes  and  very  much  embarrassed  the  boats  that  were 
conveving  the  army." 


it  has  been  said,  with  a  clear  determination  to  win  a  victory 
or  die  in  the  attempt. ^ 

It  was  expected  that  before  midnight  the  force  would  be 
over  the  river,  not  a  thousand  feet  wide  at  that  place ;  but  for 
nine  weary  hours  they  toiled  and  struggled  resolutely  with 
the  floating  ice  cakes,  and  it  was  after  three  o'clock  before 
the  last  man  reached  the  shore  of  New  Jersey.^ 

1  In  a  work  entitled  TIu  History  of  the  British  Empire  from  the 
Year  176^  to  the  End  of  lySj,  edited  "  by  a  society  of  Gentlemen,  Phila- 
delphia, 1798,"  we  find  the  doubtful  statement  that'  before  the  attack 
General  Washington  animated  his  men  by  this  speech  :  "  My  friends, 
it  is  not  only  the  liberty  of  America  that  depends  on  your  valour  and 
firmness,  but  what  ought  to  be  much  more  dear  to  you  than  your  lives, 
your  honour!  Think  of  the  infamy  which  will  attend  you  through  life, 
not  only  here,  but  through  the  whole  world,  if  the  campaign  closes  with- 
out some  instance  that  the  courage  with  which  you  stand  to  your  arms  is 
equal  to  the  justice  of  the  cause  which  ought  to  animate  your  bosoms. 
For  my  own  part,  I  will  not  survive  a  defeat,  if  that  defeat  arises  from 
any  inattention  to  your  safety.  Wipe  out  the  stains  which  have  been 
thrown  upon  your  reputations  by  seeking  an  honourable  death ;  and 
give  credit  to  me,  that  it  will  be  the  only  means  of  meeting  victory,  life 
and  honour." 

2  Tradition  gives  us  the  names  of  some  of  the  prominent  men  of 
Hopewell  Township,  Hunterdon  County,  New  Jersey,  who  did  good  ser- 
vice on  that  eventful  night.  Among  these  were  Major  Joseph  PhilKps, 
a  detachment  of  whose  First  regiment,  Hunterdon  County  militia,  under 
command  of  Colonel  Isaac  Smith,  had  joined  the  army  when  they  passed 
through  Trenton  ;  the  adjutant  of  the  regiment,  Elias  Phillips ;  John 
Phillips,  afterward  a  captain  in  the  regiment;  Captain  John  Mott,  for- 
merly of  the  same  organization,  but  then  recruiting  for  the  New  Jersey 
Continental  line  ;  Phihp  Phillips,  who  afterward  became  a  captain  and 
then  major  of  the  regiment ;  John  Muirheid,  John  Guild,  Henry  Sim- 
mons and  William  Green,  of  Captain  Henry  Phillips's  company;  Amos 
Scudder,  afterward  an  ensign ;  Ephraim  Woolsey,  Stephen  Burroughs, 
Edon  Burroughs,  Joseph  Inslee,  Uriah  Slack  and  David  Lanning,  of 
Captain  John  Mott's  old  company  of  the  First  regiment  of  Hunterdon 
County  miUtia,  and  James  Slack  of  Makefield  Township,  Bucks  County, 
Pennsylvania,  who  was  a  boatman  on  the  river. 

Some  of  these  men  helped  at  the  crossing,  and  all  marched  with  the 
army  to  Trenton,  some  as  guides,  and  others,  in  plain  farmers'  clothes,  as 
scouts,  going  well  in  advance  to  spy  out  the  state  of  the  picket-guard. 
One  of  these  patriots,  David  Lanning,  a  miller,  had  but  a  few  days 



It  was  almost  four  o'clock  on  Thursday  morning  when  the 
army  was  formed  for  its  march  from  the  Eight  Mile  or 
McKonkey's  Ferry  to  Trenton  ;  but  at  last,  when  the  chain 
of  sentries  placed  by  General  Stephen  around  the  landing- 
place  had  been  called  in,  the  order  was  given  to  "shoulder 
your  iirelocks,"  the  weary  tramp  in  cold  and  sleet  com- 
menced, and 

"  Our  gallant  troops,  with  bayonets  fix'd, 
To  Trenton  marched  away." 

Instructions  had  been  given  to  the  men  to  march  quietly, 
keep  in  good  order  in 
the  ranks,  give  prompt 
obedience  to  their  offi- 
cers, and  to  bear  in  mind 
the  emphatic  password, 
"  Victory  or  Death." 

Although  still  dark,  it 
was  feared  that  the  loyal- 
ists in  the  vicinity  would 
betray  them.  We  have 
seen  that  these  fears  were 
well  founded,  but  the  offi-  V  ■ 
cious  labors  of  the  Tory 
farmer  were  of  no  avail. 

It  was  a  cold  and 
cheerless  morning.  The 
ground  was  still  covered 
with  snow,  and  at  times 
a  storm  of  hail  annoyed 
them  ;  the  wind  was  east-northeast,  and  this  made  the  storm 


before  been  taken  prisoner  by  a  Hessian  party  and  confined  in  Trenton 
at  the  house  on  Tucker's  corner,  the  southwest  corner  of  Queen  and 
Second  streets;  but  he  had  escaped,  and  on  Christmas  morning,  after 
being  concealed  in  the  very  house  which  Colonel  Rail  had  made  his 
headquarters,  he  had  assumed  the  character  of  an  old  woodman,  with  an 
axe  on  his  shoulder,  and  had  passed  from  the  house  beyond  the  guards 
and  so  up  the  river  to  give  efficient  aid  to  the  patriot  cause. 


beat,  at  least  during  a  part  of  the  march,  rather  more  on  the 
backs  than  in  the  faces  of  the  men.  The  slippery  condition 
of  the  road  retarded  their  progress  very  much,  and  the  want 
of  proper  clothing  made  their  condition  pitiable  indeed. 

The  army  marched  in  column  from  the  river  to  the  Bear 
Tavern,  a  distance  of  about  a  mile,  and  then,  moving  silently 
past  the  quiet  farmhouses  and  through 
forests  of  hickory  and  black  oak  on  the 
River  road,  they  came  to  Birmingham, 
somewhat  more  than  three  miles  from 
the  tavern.  The  general  officers  fre- 
quently spoke  to  their  men,  and  urged 
them  to  retrieve  the  disasters  on  Lontr 
Island  and  at  Forts  Washington  and  Lee, 
and  the  sorrowful  retreat  through  New 

Before  they  reached  Birmingham,  Cap- 
tain John  Mott,  a  gallant  officer,  who 
had  come  from  the  Northern  army  with 
Maxwell  and  St.  Clair  to  recrtnt  men  for 
the  new  establishment  of  the  New  Jersey 
Continental  line,  but  who  had  volunteered 
to  guide  the  troops  on  a  road  on  which 
he  himself  lived,  being  armed  with  a  fu- 
see, and  walking  in  advance  of  the  line, 
found  that  his  priming  powder  was  damp, 
although  he  had  covered  it  with  his  hand- 
kerchief. He  mentioned  the  fact  to  Gen- 
eral Sullivan,  who,  finding  that  all  the 
arms  were  in  more  or  less  the  same  con- 
dition, called  out,  "  Well,  boys,  we  must 
fight  them  with  the  bayonet  !  " 
When  this  mishap  was  announced  to  General  Washington, 
he  sent  a  similar  reply  by  his  aide-de-camp,  Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel Samuel  B.  Webb,  "  Then  tell  the  general  to  use  the 
bayonet  and  penetrate  into  the  town  ;  for  the  town  must  be 
taken  and  I  am  resolved  to  take  it."     The  spirited  and  em- 

/ '  '"/*«< 

iLX    <  .\KkIEIJ    bV 



.MONUMENT    AT    W'ASI  IIN(;t<)N's    CROSSINT.     NEW   JERbEV 

phatic  nature  of  these  instructions  gave  new  courage  to  tlie 
troops ;  they  fixed  their  bayonets  without  an  order,  and 
pressed  eagerly  on  in  tlie  march. 

At  Birmingham,  without  dismounting  from  the  chestnut 
sorrel  horse  which  he  rode  that  day,  General  Washington 
stopped  for  a  moment,  and  partook  of  the  hospitality  of  Ben- 
jamin Moore,  while  the  column  was  halted,  and  the  men 
made  a  hasty  meal.     When  the  order  was  given  to  march, 


a  large  number  of  the  soldiers  were  found  asleep  by  the  road- 
side, and  it  was  with  diificulty  that  they  could  be  aroused. 

The  column  was  then  broken  into  two  divisions,  which 
marched  toward  Trenton  in  different  directions.  Major- 
General  Sullivan's  first  division,  the  right  wing  of  the  army, 
consisted  of  the  brigades  of  Brigadier-General  St.  Clair,  Colo- 
nel Glover  and  Colonel  Sargent,  with  the  batteries  of  Cap- 
tains Neil,  riugg,  Moulder  and  Sargent.  This  force  went 
by  the  lower  or  River  road.      Major-General  Greene's  second 

EE.\R    T.WERN,    1.\C0B'S    CREEK,    MERCER    COUNTY 

division,  the  left  wing  of  the  army,  consisted  of  the  brigades 
of  Brigadier-Generals  Stephen,  Mercer,  Lord  Stirling  and 
de  Fermoy,  with  Captain  Morris's  Philadelphia  troop  of  light 
horse,  and  the  batteries  of  Captains  Forrest,  Bauman  and 
Hamilton.  General  Washington  accompanied  this  division, 
which  took  the  Scotch  road,  leading  into  the  old  road  from 
the  village  of  Pennington  to  Trenton. 

^  PRESS    ON,    PRESS    ON,    BOYS! 


The  distance  from  Birmingham  to  Trenton  by  either  route 
was  nearly  equal,  being  between  four  and  five  miles,  with 
perhaps  a  little  advantage  for  General  Sullivan's  division  on 
the  River  road. 

When  each  column  had  proceeded  about  one  half  of  the 
required  distance,  the  first  signs  of  daylight  began  to  appear, 


and  the  plan  of  a  surprise  in  the  darkness  was  necessarily 
abandoned.  To  retreat  at  this  late  hour  was  to  draw  upon 
them  the  Hessian  force  in  strength  ;  but  General  Washing- 
ton, as  he  rode  along,  seemed  wrapped  in  thought,  and  ever 
and  anon  called  to  his  men,  "  Press  on,  press  on,  boys  ! " 


On  the  Scotch  road  General  Greene's  division  was  joined 
by  Captain  Washington's  company,  which  had  been  engaged 
in  picking  up  men  approaching  or  coming  from  the  village, 
and  the  column  then  entered  the  Pennington  road  about  a 
mile  beyond  the  village.  As  soon  as  the  town  was  descried, 
it  is  said  that  General  Washington  waved  his  sword,  and  ex- 
claimed, "  There,  my  brave  fellows,  are  the  enemies  of  your 
country.  Remember  now  what  you  are  about  to  fight  for." 
In  his  heart  each  man  responded  to  the  appeal  of  his  chief- 
tain, and  at  this  critical  moment  the  cause  of  liberty  nerved 
his  arm,  and  inspired  him  with  firmness  and  courage  as  he 
grasped  his  firelock. ^ 

^  In  his  Surprise  of  Trenton,  Frank  Forester,  from  whose  works  we 
have  already  quoted,  has  graphically  described  the  situation :  — 

"  Yet  his  fate  was  on  the  cast  — 

Life  and  fame  and  country  all. 
Sterner  game  was  never  played  : 

Death  or  Freedom  —  win  or  fall ! 
Fall  he  —  and  his  country's  hope 

Sets,  a  sun  no  more  to  rise  ! 
Win  he  —  and  her  dawning  light 

Yet  may  fill  the  unfathom'd  skies  ! 
Fall  he  —  and  his  name  must  wane, 

Rebel  chief  of  rebel  band  ; 
\\'in  he  —  it  shall  live  forever, 

Father  of  his  native  land ! " 


We  will  now  glance  for  a  moment  at  Trenton  just  before 
the  attack.  At  four  o'clock  in  the  morning,  December  26, 
Lieutenant  Fischer  of  the  artillery,  as  was  his  custom,  ordered 
the  horses  to  be  attached  to  two  of  the  brass  guns  in  front 
of  the  quarters  of  the  watch-guard  on  King  street,  and 
directed  bombardiers  Geschwine  and  Schwindder  to  report 
to  Colonel  Rail  that  they  were  ready  to  make  the  early 
morning  patrol  to  the  "Doctor  House,''  near  the  Trenton 
landing.  Colonel  Rail  was  asleep,  but  his  adjutant,  Lieu- 
tenant Piel,  told  them  to  go  to  Major  von  Dechow's  quarters 
and  get  his  orders,  as  he  was  the  field  officer  on  duty.  This 
they  did,  but  presently  returned  to  Lieutenant  Fischer  with 
Major  von  Dechow's  reply  that  the  duty  would  be  omitted  for 
that  morning.  The  horses  were  then  unhitched  and  placed 
in  stables.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  afterward  testified 
that  he  was  uncertain  whether  Major  von  Dechow  acted  by 
Colonel  Rail's  orders  or  not.  Had  the  artillery  detachment 
made  this  early  morning  parade,  they  might  have  noticed 
the  excitement  incident  to  the  attempt  of  General  Ewing's 
force  to  cross  the  river,  and  it  might  have  created  an  alarm 
in  Trenton's  village. 

It  had  been  the  custom  of  the  yagers  at  the  Dickinson 
house  to  make  early  morning  patrols  with  twenty  or  thirty 
men,  and  usually  a  few  English  light  horse,  as  far  as  John- 
son's Ferry,  about  four  miles  above  Trenton.  Only  a  few 
days  previous  Lieutenant  von  Grothausen  had  made  this 
march  and  had  encountered,  as  he  said,  one  hundred  and 
fifty  Americans,  had  killed  one  of  their  horses  and  captured 
one  of  the  men.  The  only  semblance  of  a  patrol  on  Decem- 
ber 26  was  made  about  five  o'clock  in  the  morning  by  three 
yagers,  who  went  as  far  up  the  river  as  the  house  of  Captain 


K  H_  H  A  K  D 

John  Mutt  of  the  New  Jersey  Continental  line, — the  "rebel 
eaptain's  house,"  as  the  German  records  call  it,  now  on 
ground  owned  by  the  New  Jersey  Hospital  for  the  Insane, 
on  the  west  bank  of  the  water  power.  They  returned  with 
the  report  that  they  had  not  seen  any  of  the  enemy.  An 
hour  latei^  and  a  march  a  mile  farther  would  probably  have 
changed  the  condition  of  affairs  in  Trenton  at  eight  o'clock, 
and  Washington  would  have  found  a  foe  ready  to  receive 
him.  I'^very  night  this  picket  at  the  Dickinson  house  was 
reinforced  by  six  or  nine  additional  guards,  but  these  men 
were  always  withdrawn  at  si.\  o'clock.  In  case  of  an  alarm 
the  entire  picket  was  directed  to  fall  back  to  Colonel  Rail's 
quarters  in  the  village  and  await  further  orders. 

At  about  a  quarter  of  eight  o'clock  the  advance  party  of 
the  Americans  came  in  sight  of  the  Hessian  picket  post  on 
the  Pennington  road.  This  post  was  at  the  house  of  Richard 
Howell  and  his  son  Arthur,  both  coopers  by  trade.  The 
Germans  called  it  an  alarm-house,  and  when  the  guard  occu- 
pied the  building  it  was  their  custom  to  stack  their  arms  at 
the  door  and  leave  a  few  sentinels  in  charge  of  them. 


It  will  be  remembered  that  on  the  previous  night  Lieuten- 
ant Wiederhold  had  strengthened  this  picket  with  nine  men, 
and  that  on  his  arrival  his  rank  had  placed  him  in  command 
of  the  party.  From  his  diary  it  appears  that  he  had  posted 
seven  sentinels  in  the  best  possible  positions  against  sur- 
prise, and  during  the  night  had  sent  out  patrol  after  patrol 
to  guard  himself  against  an  attack.  His  night  posts  had  evi- 
dently been  withdrawn,  and  he  says  that  his  day  patrol  had 
reported  all  quiet.  Just  at  this  moment  he  stepped  out  of 
the  house,  and  through  the  edge  of  the  woods  saw  the  enemy 
approaching.  His  men,  as  he  subsequently  acknowledged, 
had  not  been  sufficiently  alert,  but  he  made  instant  prepara- 
tion for  what  he  at  first  thought  to  be  a  stray  party  of  the 
Americans.  It  seemed  to  him  there  were  about  sixty  men 
in  sight,  most  of  them  being  about  two  hundred  yards  away. 
Lieutenant  Wiederhold' s  sentinels  challenged  the  American 
party,  and  David  Lanning,  the  miller,  before  mentioned,  being 
in  the  advance,  answered  the  challenge,  and  unequivocally 
declared  himself  a  friend  to  Washington.  The  guards  then 
came  running  from  the  house,  shouting  "  Der  Feind !  Der 
Feind  !  heraus  !  heraus  !  "  ("The  enemy  !  The  enemy  !  Turn 
out !  Turn  out !  ") 

The  Americans  fired  three  times  at  the  picket ;  but  Lieu- 
tenant Wiederhold,  thinking  that  they  were  still  too  far  away, 
waited  until  they  approached  nearer,  and  then  gave  them  a 
volley.  The  picket  then  began  immediately  to  retire  on  their 
left,  not  by  the  roadway,  but  more  across  the  fields  toward 
Colonel  Rail's  quarters.  They  had  not  retreated  far  in  this 
direction  before  they  observed  an  American  battalion  and 
then  three  regiments  coming  in  on  their  right,  and  cutting 
them  off.  This  was  General  Mercer's  brigade  of  Conti- 
nentals. Seeing  this  unexpected  force,  the  picket  hastily  ran 
toward  Captain  Ernst  Eber  von  Altenbockum's  quarters,  the 
house  of  Alexander  Calhoun,  at  the  head  of  the  street  now 
called  by  his  name.  Captain  von  Altenbockum's  company 
was  by  this  time  under  arms  and  on  the  road,  and  Lieutenant 
Wiederhold  and  his  men  placed  themselves  immediately  on 

mS     the    battles    of    TRENTON    AND    PRINCETON 

von  Altenbockum's  right  wing,  and  prepared  to  make  a  stand 
against  the  a])proaching  foe.  They  had  barely  time  to  fire 
a  voile)-  ;  the)-  were  nearly  surrounded,  and  were  obliged  to 
retreat  ver)-  hurriedl}-. 

Then  some  of  the  main  picket  on  the  Maidenhead  road, 
commandetl  1))'  I^nsign  Grabe  of  the  von  Lossberg  regi- 
ment. Captain  j-jrubach  of  the  Rail  regiment  also  accompany- 
ing them,  hurried  acrnss  the  open  meadows  toward  Captain 
von  Altenbockum's  quaitei^s  for  the  purpose  of  giving  effi- 
cient aid  in  this  emei-genc\-  ;  but  they  were  still  fi\'e  hundred 
paces    froui    Alexander    Calhoiui's   house  when    they  found 

Arj-:xANriKR  ';a(.hoi:n's   house 

that  both  the  picket  and  the  company  were  falling  back  on 
them  in  much  haste.  According  to  instructions  previously 
given,  the  brigade  of  General  Stephen  had  charged  with 
great  spirit  up<m  the  retreating  outpost,  determined  to  push 
so  rapidly  into  the  village  as  to  leave  the  Hessians,  if  pos- 
sible, no  time  to  form. 



.  i^/i      * 



In  the  retreat  down  the  Pennington  road  Captain  von 
Altenlooclcuin  lost  his  Heutenant  and  one  of  his  company, 
botli  killed  before  the}'  had  gone  fifty  paces  from  their  qnar- 
ters.  A  sergeant  and  se\"eral  enlisted  men  were  severely 
wounded  before  they  reached  the  junction  of  the  roads,  just 
north  of  the  village.  Lieutenant  Georg  Christian  Kimm  of 
the  von  Lossberg  regiment,  who  fell  thus  early  in  the  en- 
gagement, was  a  fine  officer  but  eighteen  )X'ars  of  age.  The 
rush  of  the  Americans  placed  them  in  possession  of  the 
dying  man,  who  lay  by  the  wayside.      The  kindly  heart  of 


the  honest  soldier,  Captain  Samuel  Morris,  commander  of 
the  Philadeli")hia  ti'oop  of  light  horse,  was  touched  at  his  sad 
fate,  and  he  would  fain  have  attempted  to  relieve  in  some 
wa\-  the  sufferings  of  his  fallen   foe.      But  this  was  no  time 

*  hs^, 



for  sympathy.  The  sharp  order  of  General  Greene  recalled 
him  to  his  duty,  and  the  American  column  pushed  on. 

It  was  nearly  eight  o'clock  when  General  Greene's  division 
forced  the  upper  picket  station,  and  three  minutes  later  Gen- 
eral Sullivan's  troops,  which  had  previously  made  a  brief 
halt  at  the  cross-road  leading  to  Howell's  Ferry  for  the  pur- 
pose of  allowing  the  division  on  the  upper  road  to  gain  time, 
struck  the  yager  picket,  consisting  of  one  officer  and  iifty 
men,  at  "  The  Hermitage,"  the  residence  of  General  Phile- 
mon Dickinson,  on  the  River  road,  just  on  the  outskirts  of 

Marching  in  advance  of  General  Sullivan's  column.  Cap- 
tain John   Flahaven,  a  gallant  and   ambitious  officer  of  the 



First  battalion,  New  Jersey  Continental  line,  with  a  detach- 
ment of  forty  recruits  for  the  new  establishment,  first  came 
upon  this  picket  station,  and  drove  it  in.  Colonel  Glover's 
brigade  following  up  in  pursuit  of  the  retreating  guards. 

As  soon  as  Lieutenant  F"riedrich  Wilhelm  von  Grothausen 
of  the  Hessian  yagers  heard  the  firing  on  the  Pennington 
road,  and  even  before  he  saw  the  Americans  coming  out  of 
the  woods  on  the  west  side  of  Colonel  Lambert  Cadwalader's 
plantati(jn,  he  called  Sergeant  Georg  Wilhelm  Hassell  and 
twelve  of  the  guard  to  arms,  and  began  to  run  toward  the 
Pennington  road  alarm-house.  Corporal  Franz  Bauer,  the 
other  non-commissioned  officer,  and  the  rest  of  the  party  in 
great  haste  posted  themselves  behind  trees  and  fences  to 
await  developments.     At  the  same  time  ten    cannon-shots 


were  fired  at  them  from  General  Dickinson's  forces  on  the 
west  bank  of  the  Delaware,  but  without  doing  them  any 

Lieutenant  von  Grothausen  and  his  detachment  had  not 
proceeded  a  thousand  feet  across  the  fields  toward  the  as- 
saulted post  on  the  Pennington  road  before  they  heard  firing 


on  their  left,  and  saw  another  column  of  troops  hastening 
in  a  direct  line  for  their  own  alarm-house  at  the  Dickinson 
homestead.  It  was  apparent  to  the  lieutenant  that  he  must 
instantly  retrace  his  steps  and  look  after  his  yagers.  This 
he  did,  bearing,  however,  toward  the  town  and  the  river.  In 
this  way  he  was  soon  joined  by  Corporal  Bauer  and  the  rest 
of  the  command,  who  had  left  their  knapsacks  in  the  house, 
and  were  now  hurriedly  going  toward  the  barracks.  By  this 
time,  as  they  said,  "  the  Americans  were  thick  in  their  front." 
Coming  near  the  old  French  and  Indian  war  barracks  on 
Front  street,  and  receiving  a  few  reinforcements,  they 
opened  fire  on  the  Continentals.  One  volley  was  all  they 
could  give,  for  the  foe  was  on  them  ;  and  as  the  guns  of  the 
yagers  had  no  bayonets,  the  detachment  retreated  precipi- 
tately through  Front  street  toward  the  Queen  street  bridge 
over  the  Assunpink  Creek.  Even  at  this  moment  they  saw 
the  American  forces  in  the  town,  and  knew  that  in  a  few 
minutes  more  they  would  be  cut  off  from  all  communication 
with  Colonel  Rail's  headquarters.  They  tried  to  ford  the 
creek  at  King  street,  and  some  succeeded,  but  most  of  them 
ran  on  toward  the  bridge,  which  was  still  open.  In  the  mean- 
time they  had  received  no  orders  from  Colonel  Rail.  In  this 
race  one  yager  was  captured,  though  none  were  killed  or 
wounded,  and  the  rest  of  the  picket  escaped. 

Both  of  the  Hessian  picket  parties  exerted  themselves  as 
much  as  was  possible  under  the  circumstances,  but  of  course 
they  could  do  but  little  against  such  an  overwhelming  force. 
As  they  fell  back  into  the  town,  they  fired  from  every  point 
where  the  slightest  shelter  could  be  found,  but  were  quickly 
driven  "pell-mell,"  as  Colonel  Knox  said,  by  the  rapid  push 
of  the  Americans,  who  seemed  to  vie  with  each  other  in  their 
efforts  to  be  in  the  advance.  There  appears  to  be  no  doubt 
that  the  pickets  on  both  roads  at  first  supposed  that  these 
attacks  were  made  by  the  little  scouting  party  of  the  previ- 
ous day,  and  that  they  had  simply  returned  to  make  another 
demonstration  on  the  Hessian  post. 

We  left  Captain  von  Altenbockum  and  his  company.  Lieu- 



THE    BARRACKS.    AT    THE    TIME    OF    T'HE    HATTl.E    OF    TRENTiJN 

tenant  Wiederhold  and  his  picket,  and  Captain  ]:)rubach  and 
Ensign  Grabe  and  tlieir  men  of  the  main  guard  on  the 
lower  part  of  the  Pennington  road  near  King  street,  still 
trying  to  elude  the  eager  pursuit  of  the  American  forces. 
When  they  reached  the  head  of  King  and  Queen  streets. 
Captain  von  Altenbockimi  and  his  men  retired  by  Oueen 
street  ;  but  the  rest  of  the  soldiers  with  Wiederhold  and 
Brubach  passed  down  Kmg  street  in  the  direction  of  Colo- 
nel Rail's  quarters.  In  this  way  the  latter  party  was  forced 
U)  go  int(j  the  gardens  between  the  tw(j  streets  just  north  of 
Church  alley,  and  so  into  Oueen  street,  to  escape  the  direct 
fire  which  opened  upon  them  on  the  roadway. 

It  has  been  stated  that  Lieutenant  Jacob  Piel  of  the  \'on 
Lossberg  regiment.  Colonel  Rail's  brigade  adjutant,  had  been 
awakened  soon  after  five  o'clock,  and  had  directed  the  artil- 
lerymen of  the  grand  patrol  of  the  "  Doctor  House  "  to  go 
t"  Major  von  Dechow  for  orders.  It  seems  that  he  did  not 
go  to  sleep  again,  for  he  was  the  first  officer  in  the  village  to 
hear  the  firing  on  the  Pennington  road.  His  quarters  were 
in  the  house  of  Miss  Rebecca  Co.xe,  the  ne.xt  house  south  of 
Colonel  Rail's  quarters  on  King  street.  Before  si.x  o'clock 
in  the  morning  he  was  in  Rail's  room,  but  found  him   sleep- 


ing  heavily.  He  called  again  about  seven  o'clock,  but  his 
commander  was  still  asleep.  When  the  firing  was  heard,  he 
fan  across  the  street  to  the  headquarters  watch-guard  house, 
and  started  Lieutenant  Johann  Heinrich  Sternickel,  who  was 
on  duty  there  with  thirty  men  of  the  guard,  and  ten  others 
who  had  come  out  of  their  quarters  on  King  street  to  learn 
what  was  the  matter,  up  King  street  to  aid,  if  possible,  the 
picket  post  which  was  attacked.  Then  Lieutenant  Piel 
knocked  loudly  at  Colonel  Rail's  door,  and  soon  Rail  looked 
out  from  an  upper  window  in  his  night-clothes,  and  called 
out  to  Piel,  "What  is  the  matter.''"  Lieutenant  Piel  asked 
him  if  he  had  not  heard  the  firing.  Without  answering  this 
question  Colonel  Rail  said,  "  I  will  be  out  in  a  minute,"  and 
in  truth  it  did  not  take  him  long  to  reach  the  street.     Before 


he  had  stepped  out  into  the  roadway,  the  American  shot  and 
shell  were  being  fired  down  the  street. 

Lieutenant  Piel  called  also  to  his  comrade,  Lieutenant 
Hermann  Zoll,  adjutant  of  his  own  regiment,  who  quartered 
with  him  in  the  Coxe  house,  and  Zoll  was  soon  across  the 
street  and  in  the  English  Church,  hurrying  into  the  street 



the  artiller)'mcn  and  the  Scheffer  company  of  his  own  regi- 
ment, and  bringing  out  the  five  regimental  colors  which  were 
kept  in  the  church.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer,  although 
he  had  been  quite  ill  for  five  days,  "got  out  of  a  sick  bed  to 
fight,"  and  was  soon  on  duty.      He  sent   Lieutenant   Zoll  to 

THE     I'L.VCE    WHHRli     THli    .ARTILLERY    oLENliU    0.\    THE.    HESSI.VN    TROOPS, 

Colonel  Rail,  asking  where  he  wished  the  von  Lossberg  regi- 
ment to  be  formed.  Rail  was  just  then  mounting  his  horse, 
and  he  told  Lieutenant  Zoll  to  have  them  form  on  Church 
alley  back  of  the  poplar-trees,  and  with  his  hand  he  pointed 
to  the  place  in  the  graveyard  behind  the  English  Church. 
They  formed  there,  facing  toward  the  north  and  the  ap- 
proaching enemy.  Colonel  Rail  then  turned  to  ride  a  short 
distance  down  King  street  to  where  the  Rail  regiment  had 
been  quartered,  and  was  now  effecting  a  formation. 

This  regiment,  as  will  be  remembered,  was  the  regiment 
"of  the  day,"  and  so,  as- was  to  be  expected,  at  least  one 
half  of  the  command  was  instantly  under  arms  without  any 


direct  orders  from  Colonel  Rail.  At  that  time  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  Balthasar  Brethauer  was  in  command  of  the  regi- 
ment. They  formed  on  King  street,  facing  east,  with  cen- 
tre in  front  of  Pinkerton's  alley,  now  East  Hanover  street. 
As  soon  as  one  of  the  battahons  of  the  regiment  was 
completed  the)'  immediately  started  up  King  street,  and 
were  soon  joined  by  Colonel  Rail,  who  was  riding  down 
to  meet  them.  Already  the  shot  from  the  American  bat- 
teries was  flying  down  the  street  and  breaking  into  their 
ranks.  They  had  just  taken  their  flags  from  Colonel  Rail's 
quarters  and  had  advanced  but  a  few  steps  beyond  the 
house  when  they  were  greeted  by  a  strong  fire  on  their  left 
flank  from  General  Mercer's  brigade,  coming  in  from  the 
rear  of  Potts's  tannery,  and  some  sharp  musketry  fire  from 
the  rear  of  William  Tindall's  and  William  Smith's  property 
on  Queen  street.  Here  Lieutenant-Colonel  Brethauer's 
horse  was  shot  from  under  him,  and  he  went  back  to  his 
quarters  to  get  another  one,  leaving  Major  Johann  Jost 
Matthaus  in  command.  Brethauer  had  been  quite  ill  for 
several  days  and  was  too  weak  to  walk.  It  does  not  appear 
that  he  took  any  further  part  in  the  fight.  Lieutenant 
Sternickel's  watch-guard  could  be  seen  just  ahead  of  the 
Rail  regiment,  but  the  artillery  fire  from  the  head  of  the 
street  soon  scattered  the  guard,  the  lieutenant  received 
a  grievous  wound,  and  the  men  ran  over  toward  Queen 

At  this  moment  Major  Matthaus  called  out  to  Lieutenant 
Johannes  Engelhardt  to  go  ahead  with  the  two  cannon 
which  had  been  stationed  in  front  'of  the  watch-guard  house. 
The  horses  were  already  hitched,  and  Colonel  Rail  cried 
out  in  German  to  the  commander  of  this  section  of  the 
battery :  "  My  God,  Lieutenant  Engelhardt,  the  picket  is 
already  coming  in  !  Push  your  cannon  ahead  !  "  And  the 
drivers  shouted  as  the  horses  plunged  forward.  But  they 
did  not  go  far,  not  over  one  hundred  and  fifty  feet,  on  the 
north  side  of  the  bridge  over  the  little  stream  now  called 
Petty's  Run,  when  the  destructive  fire  of  the  artillery  at  the 



head  of  the  street 
reached  them,  and 
they  were  greatly 
annoyed  by  marks- 
men behind  the 
fences  which  encir- 
cled Potts's  tanyard. 
When  he  left  the 
church  Lieutenant 
Engelhardt  had  with 
him  his  bombardier, 
Westerburg,  and  sev- 
enteen men,  but  e\'en 
in  this  short  time  he 
lost  several  valuable 
soldiers.  He  took 
charge  of  one  of  the 
Rail  guns,  and  Wes- 
terburg of  the  other. 
The\-  immediatel)' 
fired  six  shots  from 
each  cannon,  but  be- 
fore this  had  been 
accomplished  eight  of 
the  detachment  were 
killed  or  wounded, 
leaving  only  six  effec- 
tive men  with  one 
gun  and  four  with  the 
other.  Artillerist 

Poland  and  artillerist 
Rieman  were  very 
badly  wounded.  Ar- 
tillerist Heutzemann 
was  also  wounded, 
and  he  afterward  died 
of  his  wounds  a  pris- 



oner  of  war.  Two  men  who  had  been  detached  from  the 
Rail  regiment  for  duty  with  the  artillery  and  two  men  from 
the  von  Lossberg  regiment  received  dangerous  wounds. 
Three  of  the  horses  on  one  gun  and  two  on  the  other  had 
fallen  with  fatal  inj  uries.  With  the  force  then  available  the 
guns  could  not  be  taken  off  the  street.  Lieutenant  Engel- 
hardt  sent  back  to  Colonel  Rail  for  protection,  and  called  out 
to  Major  Matthaus  that  he  must  be  sustained  or  he  would 
lose  his  guns.  Matthaus  promised  that  he  would  furnish 
support.  Then  Engelhardt  ordered  Westerburg  to  put 
grapeshot  in  his  gun,  and  the  thirteenth  shot  was  fired  at 
the  enemy  on  the  other  side  of  the  tanyard. 

In  the  mean  time  Colonel  Rail  had  sent  down  to  hurry 
the  rest  of  the  Rail  regiment  on  the  advance  while  he  rode 
to  the  corner  of  Church  alley  and  King  street  to  look  after 
the  von  Lossberg  regiment.  Many  soldiers  of  the  Rail  regi- 
ment had  already  gone  down  King  street  and  through  Front 
street  to  escape  at  the  bridge.  At  this  moment  word  was 
brought  him  that  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  was  fully 
formed  on  the  lower  part  of  Queen  street  and  awaited 

As  soon  as  the  American  column  reached  the  place  where 
King  and  Queen  streets  intersect,  at  the  north  portion  of 
the  town,  their  artillery  was  placed  in  position  to  rake  the 
two  principal  streets  of  the  village.  Colonel  Knox,  under 
General  Washington's  orders,  brought  up  four  pieces  of  the 
six-gun  battery  of  Captain  Thomas  Forrest,  with  the  second 
company  of  the  Pennsylvania  State  artillery  battalion,  and 
gave  them  the  range  down  Queen  street.  Captain  Alex- 
ander Hamilton's  ^  New  York  State  company  of   artillery, 

'  The  gallant  Hamilton,  not  yet  of  age,  with  his  young  company, 
formerly  known  as  the  Provincial  Company  of  Artillery  of  New  York, 
was  a  model  of  discipline,  and  promptly  answered  the  order  to  prepare 
for  action.  The  personal  appearance  of  the  young  artillerist  at  this 
time  is  fully  described  in  the  account  given  by  Mrs.  Catherine  V.  R. 
Cochrane,  his  sister-in-law,  the  youngest  daughter  of  General  Schuyler  : 

"  A  small,  lithe  figure,  instinct  with  life ;  erect  and  steady  in  gait ; 
a  military  presence  without  the  intolerable  accuracy  of  a  martinet,  and 


then  with  the  reserve,  was  also  ordered  up  with  its  two  guns 
to  this,  the  highest  point  in  the  town,  and  from  here  they 
opened  fire  down  King  street.^ 

Surrounded  by  his  staff  and  by  his  escort,  the  Philadelphia 
troop  of  light  horse,  General  Washington  took  his  position 
on  the  high  ground  on  what  is  now  Princeton  avenue,  op- 
posite Fountain  avenue,  formerly  on  the  road  leading  to 
Nathan  Beakes's  plantation.  This  spot  is  now  the  northwest 
corner  of  a  lot  belonging  to  John  S.  Chambers,  Esq.  From 
this  advantageous  position  he  was  able  to  overlook  the  town 
and  direct  the  movements  of  his  troops.  The  few  scattered 
dwellings  were  but  little  hindrance  to  his  quick  perception  of 
his  own  position  and  his  keen  observation  of  the  movements 

his  general  address  was  graceful  and  nervous,  indicating  the  beauty, 
energy  and  activity  of  his  mind.  A  bright,  ruddy  complexion ;  hght- 
colored  hair ;  a  mouth  infinite  in  expression,  its  sweet  smile  being  most 
observable  and  most  spoken  of ;  eyes  lustrous  with  deep  meaning  and 
reflection,  or  glancing  with  quick  canny  pleasantry,  and  the  whole  coun- 
tenance decidedly  Scottish  in  form  and  expression." 

1  The  Trenton  Battle  Monument  Association  has  erected  in  Trenton, 
New  Jersey,  a  great  memorial  column  to  commemorate  the  victory 
gained  by  the  Continental  troops  over  the  army  of  Great  Britain  in  the 
war  for  independence.  It  stands  at  the  junction  of  five  streets,  and  on 
the  exact  spot  where  the  American  artillery  opened  on  the  Hessian  foe. 
The  monument  is  from  a  design  prepared  by  John  H.  Duncan  of  New 
York  city,  and  the  style  of  the  column  is  that  known  as  Roman-Doric. 
The  shaft  is  of  white  granite  from  the  granite  works  at  Hallowell, 
Maine.  The  entire  structure  is  one  hundred  and  fifty  feet  in  height, 
and  is  surmounted  by  a  bronze  statue  of  General  Washington,  by  Wil- 
liam R.  O'Donovan  of  New  York  city.  On  the  base  of  the  monument 
are  three  tablets,  sculptured  by  Thomas  Eakins  of  Philadelphia  and 
Karl  H.  Niehaus  of  New  York  city,  depicting  the  Continental  army 
crossing  the  Delaware  River,  the  opening  of  the  fight,  and  the  sur- 
render of  the  Hessians.  The  fourth  side  of  the  base  contains  the 
memorial  inscription.  At  the  doorway  of  the  monument  are  two  bronze 
statues,  one  of  private  John  Russell  of  Colonel  John  Glover's  Conti- 
nental regiment  from  Marblehead,  Massachusetts,  and  the  other  of 
private  Blair  McClenachan  of  the  Philadelphia  troop  of  light  horse. 
This  monument,  the  outcome  of  many  years  of  effort  by  the  associa- 
tion, will  be  found  worthy  alike  of  the  event  it  commemorates  and  of 
the  progress  the  country  has  made  in  the  arts. 


and  subsequent  consternation  of  the  Hessian  foe.  There 
is  a  tradition  in  Trenton,  which  cann(jt  now  be  verified,  that 
at  this  spot  a  bullet  struck  the  chestnut  sorrel  horse  on 
which  General  Washington  rode  that  clay,  and  so  disabled 
the  animal  that  another  had  to  be  procured  for  the  general, 
the  wounded  horse  being  left  in  the  \-illage  for  treatment. 
It  has  been  stated  that  the  von  I^ossberg  regiment  formed 

L;R(j.\ZE    MAIUE    n!"     t.LNHKAI-     WASHINGTriN     UN    TOP 

in  the  graveyard  back  of  the  English  Church.  The  von 
Hanstein  compan\'  of  that  regiment,  which  had  been  quar- 
tered on  the  south  side  of  the  Assunpink  Creek,  having 
received  orders  from  Captain  Friedrich  Wilhelm  von  Ben- 
ning,  came  up  on  a  run  to  the  alley  near  King  street,  where 
they  took   position   on  the  left  wing,  next  to  the  von   Loos 

A    RALL    liA'l'TALKIX    1)I<I\'KN    ISACK 

jL'MJ    WHERJ^   WA^^HING  tux    RliiMAl.N' lilJ    ])LKIi\i 


company  of  their  own  regiment.  Just  at  this  moment  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Scheffer,  who  had  received  instructions  from 
Colonel  Rail,  ordered  them  out  of  the  alley  and  up  King- 
street.  They  had  not  made  forty  steps  before  the  body 
company  on  the  right  wing  received  a  heavy  fire  of  shell 
from  Hamilton's  battery  at  the  head  of  the  street.  Falling 
back  to  escape  the  fire,  they  faced  the  northeast  and  the 
woods  on  the  out.skirts  of  the  town.  Several  of  the  men  of 
the  regiment  were  badly  wounded  at  this  time. 

The  battalion  of  the  Rail  regiment  which  had  advanced 
up  King  street  as  far  as  the  little  bridge  where  the  Hessian 
cannon  were  being  fired,  delivered  two  volleys  at  the  Amer- 
icans and  then  fell  back  in  much  disorder,  throwing  the  left 
wing  of  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  nito  great  confusion. 
The  flags  of  the  Rail  regiment  came  into  the  possession 
and  protection  of  the  von  Hanstein  company  of  the  von 
Lossbero-  regiment.  The  picket  of  Lieutenant  Wiederhold, 
two  of  whom  had  been  wounded,  though  none  were  killed 
or  captured,  also  fell  back  on  the  von  Lossberg  regiment. 
Lieutenant  Wiederhold  was  here  accosted  by  Colonel  Rail, 
whom  he  told  not  to  underrate  the   enemy,  "for  they  are 


very  strong."  Wiederhold  and  his  men  continued  tlieir  re- 
treat down  Queen  street,  and  eventually  joined  the  von 
Knyphausen  regiment  before  it  left  Second  street  for  the 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  instantly  ordered  his  von 
Lossberg  regiment  to  wheel  on  the  right,  thus  bringing 
their  front  obliquely  toward  the  woods,  and  their  back  to- 
ward the  town.  Captain  Adam  Christoph  Steding,  with  the 
Scheffer  company,  one  half  of  the  von  Hanstein  company, 
and  part  of  the  body  company,  then  attempted  to  dislodge 
some  Americans  who  had  come  down  in  the  advance  on 
Queen  street,  taken  shelter  behind  some  board  fences,  and 
through  the  apertures  were  doing  great  damage  as  sharp- 
shooters.    This  effort,  however,  was  ineffectual. 

As  soon  as  the  Rail  battalion  gave  way,  Lieutenant  En- 
gelhardt  and  his  artillerists  who  were  still  uninjured  dropped 
their  rammers,  sponges  and  handspikes  and  took  flight 
across  the  gardens  toward  the  corner  of  Church  alley  and 
Queen  street.  They  were  powerless  and  panic-struck. 
They  had  gone  but  forty  steps  from  the  "broken-down 
house,"  as  German  records  call  it,  of  Richard  Norris,  a  stay- 
maker,  on  the  west  side  of  King  street,  when  the  Americans 
had  possession  of  the  two  Rail  cannon.  Lieutenant  Engel- 
hardt  reported  to  Colonel  Rail,  whom  he  found  near  the 
corner  referred  to,  still  mounted,  sword  in  hand,  and  with 
his  men  gathered  around  him  in  much  confusion.  He  called 
out,  "  Colonel  Rail,  there  is  yet  time  to  save  the  cannon." 
Receiving  no  answer,  he  again  shouted  out  the  same  state- 
ment. The  colonel  seemed  greatly  bewildered,  for  by  this 
time  he  heard  the  sharp  reports  of  the  rifles  of  General 
Sullivan's  men  on  his  left,  and  he  only  said  in  German, 
"  Lord,  Lord,  what  is  it,  what  is  it .''  "  Lieutenant  Gregorius 
Salzmann,  who  was  standing  near  Colonel  Rail,  repeated 
Engelhardt's  remark.  The  colonel  replied,  "  Never  mind, 
we  will  soon  have  them  back,"  and  shouted,  "  Forward, 
men,  forward ! "  but  the  men  did  not  obey.  Then  Lieu- 
tenant   Engelhardt,    bombardier    Westerburg,    bombardier 


Ide  and  the  rest  of  the  detachment  about  them,  went 
throuijh  the  rear  of  the  houses  on  King  and  Queen  streets, 
and  beat  their  way  toward  the  creek.  A  considerable  num- 
ber of  the  Rail  regiment  also  ran  away  down  Queen  street. 
Passing  across  Second  street,  the  lieutenant  told  Major  von 
Dechow  of  the  von  Knyphauseu  regiment  of  the  loss  of  the 
cannon,  and  as  he  pushed  on,  heard  the  reply,  "Vov  God's 
sake,  I  understand  !  "  l^eceiving  some  shots  from  an  ad- 
vance party  of  Colonel  Glover's  men  behind  a  red  board 
fence  between  the  creek  and  the  house  (if  the  loyalist  Major 
John  liarnes  on  the  west  side  of  Queen  street,  the)'  escaped 
over  the  stone  bridge  and  thence  to  Bordcntown. 

Glancing  again  at  the  Americans,  we  note  that  as  soon  as 

f^Wt^  '*^*^**«ff 




Bronze  Table!  ^'n  the  Treiifoit  Bei/tle  H/omnjieiit 

Stephen's  brigade,  the  advance  of  Greene's  division,  came 
to  the  head  of  King  street,  it  was  dispatched  up  the  liiams- 
wick  road  to  prevent  the  escape  of  the  Hessians  toward 
Maidenhead.  General  de  P'ermoy's  brigade  followed  that  of 
General  Stephen  under  orders  to  the  same  effect,  and  the 
two  brigades  formed  a  strong  double    line,   with    their  left 

i(,4     THE    ISATTLKS    (3F    TRENTON    AND    PRINCETON 

on  the  Assunpink  Creek,  and  tlius  effectually  prevented 
any  flight  northward.  Loi^d  Stirling's  brigade,  heretofore 
the  reserve,  was  now  about  at  the  head  of  King  street,  and 
the  denioraliziiif;-  effect  of  the   ouns   of   the  American   bat- 


teries  being  noticed,  an  instant  charge  was  ordered.  Colo- 
nel Weedon's  regiment  of  Stirling's  brigade  was  in  the 
ad\'ance,  and  Cajitain  William  Washington  of  that  regiment, 
with  his  lieutenant,  James  Monroe,  leading  their  men,  made 
a  quick  dash  down  tlie  street,  and,  as  we  ha\'e  already  stated, 
took  the  two  brass  three-pounder  guns  of  the  Rail  regi- 
ment. Both  officers  were  W(.)unded  in  this  exploit,  the  cap- 
tain being  injured  in  b(jth  hands,  and  Monroe  hit  in  the 
shoulder  by  a  ball,  which  cut  an  aitery.  During  the  war 
these  officers  continued  to  add  new  lustre  to  their  names.^ 

1  Captain  \Vasliina;ton,  afterwards  promoted  colonel  of  a  cavalry 
regiment  on  the  Continental  establishment,  was  a  soldier  of  great  per- 
sonal strength  and  commanding  presence,  although  modest  in  demeanor. 
At  tlie  battle  of  Cowpens  lie  distinguished  himself  ■•  by  a  brilliant  speci- 



As  Captain  von  Altenbockum's  company  retired  down 
Queen  street,  tlie  shots  from  Captain  Forrest's  battery  fol- 
lowed fast  after  them.  Hitherto  the  Hessian  captain  had 
given  his  orders  with  much  presence  of  mind,  and  by  a 
proper  defense  had,  as  he  thought,  kept  the  American  col- 
umn in  check  to  some  extent.  At  this  instant  he  received  a 
severe  wound  in  the  head,  fell  to  the  ground,  and  was  for  a 
time  unconscious.  Sergeant  Christian  Kyssell  and  fusiliers 
Heinrich  Baude  and  Heinrich  Spier  of  his  company  were 
killed  by  the  same  volley.     Although  Captain   Brubach  was 


retiring  with  this  company,  Ensign  Cjrabe,  being  the  second 
officer  of  von  Altenbockum's  company,  took  immediate  com- 
mand.     At  last  the  company  came  in  line  on  the  left  wing 

men  of  innate  valor,''  as  we  are  informed  by  the  in.scription  wliich  Con- 
gress ordered  placed  on  a  medal  presented  to  liini.  Lieutenant  Monroe, 
like  his  great  chief,  e.xclianged  the  duties  of  a  soldier  for  those  of  tlie 
President  of  a  free  repuljlic. 


and  merged  itself  into  the  ranks  of  its  own  von  Lossberg 
regiment  as  this  organization  was  moving  away  from  the 
village  in  a  northeasterly  direction  toward  the  low  ground 
east  of  Queen  street  and  the  head  of  Dark  lane.  This 
movement  was  by  Colonel  Rail's  orders,  and  he  accompanied, 
it  for  some  distance  with  such  of  the  Rail  regiment  as  had 
not  already  escaped.  On  the  march  an  officer  of  the  von 
Knyphausen  regiment  saluted  Colonel  Rail  and  received 
orders  from  him  to  direct  Major  von  Dechow  and  his  regi- 
ment to  fall  back,  if  hard  pressed,  toward  the  orchard. 

Lieutenant  Friedrich  Fischer  of  the  artillery,  accompanied 
by  bombardier  Conrad  Volprecht  and  about  fourteen,  ma- 
trosses,  took  two  of  the  guns  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regir 
ment  a  short  distance  up  Queen  street,  near  the  south  line 
of  James  Linn's  property,  for  the  purpose  of  opposing  a 
charge  down  Queen  street,  if  one  should  be  made.  Vol- 
precht was  able  to  fire  five  shots  at  the  foe,  and  Lieutenant 
Fischer  discharged  the  other  gun  three  times.  One  cannon- 
shot  from  Captain  Forrest's  Pennsylvania  battery,  before 
General  Mercer's  charge  was  made,  killed  three  of  the  horses 
of  the  German  artillery  detachment.  Then  one  of  the  guns 
failed  to  go  off,  became  useless,  and  the  most  reliable  gunner 
in  the  party  was  killed.  This  took  scarcely  ten  minutes,  and 
the  entire  section,  guns  and  men,  came  very  near  being  sur- 
rounded. Lieutenant  Fischer  fired  one  grapeshot  from  the 
other  gun,  and  then,  his  own  horse  having  been  shot  from 
under  him,  he  hurried  off  with  the  cannon  to  join  the  Rail 
and  von  Lossberg  regiments,  at  that  moment  returning  to 
attack  the  town.  Bombardier  Volprecht,  however,  ran  down 
Queen  street  with  some  of  the  matrosses,  and  joined  the 
artillerymen  with  the  von  Lossberg  guns,  which  were  attached 
to  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment. 

The  whole  town  was  now  in  an  uproar.  The  Americans 
were  pressing  in  on  every  side,  deadly  shots  were  being  fired 
from  houses  and  cellars  and  from  behind  fences  and  trees, 
and  it  was  hard  to  bring  the  confused  Hessian  battalions  up 
to  the  work.      General  Sullivan's  division  was  rapidly  taking 



p(i.ssession  of  the  southern  part  of  the  town.  It  is  said  that 
at  this  time  the  soldiers  cried,  "These  are  the  times  tliat 
try  men's  souls,"  as  they  pursued  the  Hessian  foe.  If  this 
is  correct,  the  stirring  words  of  Thomas  Paine  were  no  doubt 
instrimiental   in    bringing   triumph   to   the   American   arms. 

i_Al^TAI.\     Tlin.MAS     l-(jRRh^i 

Colonel  John  Stark's  first  New  Hampshire  regiment  led 
the  right  of  St.  Clair's  brigade,  and  with  Captain  Moulder's 
battery  wheeled  rapidly  at  Alexander  Chambers's  store,  on 
the  corner  of  Second  street  and  the  River  road,  now  the 
corner  of  Willow  and  State  streets,  and  as  quickly  pushed 
eastward  through  Second  street  in  the  direction  of  the  von 
Knyphausen  regiment,  then  marching  toward  them  in  front 
of  the   Bull    Head   Tavern.      "The   dauntless   Stark,"   says 


Major  Wilkinson,  in  his  "Memoirs,"  "dealt  death  wherever  he 
found  resistance,  and  broke  down  all  opposition  before  him." 
Captain  Ebenezer  Frye,  a  very  corpulent  officer  of  Stark's 
regiment,  Sergeant  Ephraim  Stevens  and  sixteen  men  of  his 
Derryfield  company  kept  constantly  at  the  front,  and,  it  is 
said,  with  his  little  ragged  squad  captured  sixty  Hessians, 
who  were  first  astonished  at  the  sudden  onset,  and  then  still 
more  astounded  that  they  had  allowed  themselves  to  be 
taken  by  such  an  insignificant  party. 

The  rest  of  the  first  division  —  Colonel  Sargent's  brigade 
with  Neil's  battery,  and  Glover's  brigade  with  Sargent's 
Massachusetts  battery  attached,  Major-General  Sullivan  in 
person  leading  this  column  —  marched  to  Front  street,  sent  a 
force  to  take  possession  of  the  barracks,  and  then,  in  the 
quickest  manner  possible  ran  through  Front  street  to  Queen 
street,  hoping  to  cut  off  all  escape  at  the  bridge  over  the 
Assunpink  Creek.  In  this  they  were  only  partially  success- 
ful. Colonel  Glover's  brigade,  having  crossed  the  bridge, 
immediately  turned  to  the  left  and  took  position  on  the  high 
ground  south  of  the  creek. 

We  left  the  Rail  and  the  von  Lossberg  regiments  with- 
drawing from  the  village  on  a  low,  level  plot  of  ground  which 
we  can  locate  without  doubt  as  between  what  is  now  Mont- 
gomery and  Stockton  streets,  north  of  Perry  street,  and 
commonly  known  as  "The  Swamp."  The  fragment  of  the 
Rail  regiment  had  by  this  time  been  reduced  to  some  kind 
of  order  by  the  exertions  of  Ensign  Carl  Wilhelm  Klein- 
schmidt,  the  adjutant  of  the  regiment.  He  secured  the 
flags,  which  he  again  posted  with  the  proper  company  in 
charge  of  them.  Major  von  Hanstein  here  asked  Colonel 
Rail  what  was  the  next  thing  to  be  done.  At  first  it  seemed 
as  though  the  colonel  could  not  come  to  a  decision.  Von 
Hanstein  said  again  to  Rail,  "If  you  will  not  let  us  press 
forward  up  this  street,  then  we  must  retreat  to  the  bridge ; 
otherwise  the  whole  affair  will  end  disastrously.''  To  this 
Colonel  Rail  assented. 

Then    the   two  regiments,  by  direct  command   of   Lieu- 



tenant-Colonel  Scheffer,  probably  in  accordance  with  Colonel 
Rail's  orders,  wheeled  about  and  faced  the  town,  the  von 
Lossberg  regiment  being  on  the  right  of  the  line.  hVom 
his  horse  Colonel  Rail  made  every  effort  to  place  these  two 

r.ENEKAL    J<.)HN    STARK 

//;  (In-  Capital  al   IWishiaj^ton 

organizations  in  readiness  for  a  determined  attempt  to  regain 
the  lost  ground  by  making  a  direct  attack  on  the  village. 
"  Forward  march  !  "  he  cried,  "  and  attack  them  with  the  bayo- 
net." As  they  started  again  in  "good  order,"  so  we  are  told 
in  the  German  records,  the  Rail  regiment  once  more  fell 
into  confusion  from1:he  effects  of  the  sharp  firing  from  the 
adjacent  houses  and  from  Captain   Forrest's  battery.     The 


men  were  now  continually  falling  with  grievous  wounds  and 
dying  in  the  street,  and  the  officers  strenuously  striving  to  pre- 
serve intact  the  formation  of  these  organizations.  The  band 
of  the  brigade  began  to  play  for  the  encouragement  of  the 
men,  and  in  this  way  the  two  regiments  at  last  came  back  to 
Queen  street  below  Church  alley.  They  found,  however, 
that  the  houses  at  this  point  were  full  of  the  enemy,  who 
were  shooting  them  down  at  every  moment.  About  this 
time  Colonel  Rail  received  a  slight  wound,  which  annoyed 
him  very  much,  and  he  said  weakened  him  ;  but  it  did  not 
in  any  way  disable  him,  nor  did  he  cease  urging  his  soldiers 
to  continue  the  attack.  He  told  Major  von  Hanstein  that 
he  was  wounded,  but  that  he  did  not  think  it  would  amount 
to  much.  Yet  he  was  apparently  getting  weaker  from  the 
loss  of  blood.  The  von  Lossberg  regiment  had  still  igg 
men  in  line,  and  retained  some  semblance  of  a  fighting 

The  von  Knyphausen  regiment  was  all  this  time  struggling 
on  Second  street  with  St.  Clair's  Continental  brigade.  The 
regiment  had  formed  on  Queen  street  above  and  below 
Second  street,  the  flags  had  been  taken  out  of  Major  von 
Dechow's  quarters,  and  then  for  fifteen  minutes  they  had 
stood  inactive  waiting  for  orders.  In  the  mean  time  Major 
von  Dechow  had  galloped  down  to  the  Assunpink  Creek 
bridge,  and  had  directed  Sergeant  Johannes  Mueller,  who 
was  in  charge  of  the  guard,  to  hold  out  as  long  as  possible,  if 
attacked,  and  if  driven  off  to  report  to  him.  At  last  orders 
came  to  the  major  from  Colonel  Rail,  and  the  von  Dechow 
company.  Lieutenant  Nicholas  Vaupell  and  Lieutenant  Carl 
Ludwig  von  Geyso  in  charge,  was  ordered  to  remain  where 
it  was  for  the  purpose  of  keeping  open  the  passage  to 
the  bridge.  One  half  of  the  company  faced  north,  and  the 
other  half  toward  the  west.  The  other,  four  companies  of 
the  regiment.  Captain  Ludwig  Wilhelm  von  Lowenstein  and 
his  company  on  the  right,  then  marched  along  Second  street 
as  far  as  the  intersection  of  King  street.  *  Here  they  received 
a  severe  fire  from  the  Americans  in  front  of  Mr.  Davies's 



house,  a  building  afterwards  known  as  the  "General  Zebulon 
Pike  house,"  and  they  could  see  the  American  f()rce  coming 
down  King  street,  e\'en  then  near  Colonel  Rail's  headquar- 
ters. The)'  now  retired  back  to  Queen  street,  where  they 
were  thrown  into  some  confusion  by  the  fugitives  and  strag- 
glers from  the  Rail  regiment,  who  had  escaped  through 
Pinkerton's  alley  from  King  street  or  had  run  down  with 
Engelhardt's  artillerymen  from  Church  alley,  and  were  seek- 
ing to  escape  from  the  fight  by  way  of  the  Queen  street 
bridge  over  the  creek. 

Some  of  the  men  of  the  Rail  and  von  Possberg  regiments 
were  doing  all  that  the  members  of  such  a  demoralized  force 
could  do  to  dri\'e  back  the  Americans  who  were  pushing 
through  from  Kina:  street  into  C>ueen  street.     The  smoke  of 


the  battle  was  now  enveloping  the  streets,  and,  with  the 
storm  of  sleet,  rendered  it  difficult  to  discern  friend  from  foe. 
The  Americans  were  before  them,  on  their  right  flank,  and 
coming  in  behind  them,  and  all  this  time  but  few  of  their 
firelocks  would  go  off.  Captain  Steding  told  his  company  to 
chip  their  flints  a  little,  but  this  had  no  effect,  as  the  powder 
in  the  pan  was  wet.  As  they  again  reached  the  place  where 
Church   alley  runs    into    Queen    street,  the    flring    became 


more  severe,  and  fourteen  men  of  the  von  Lossberg  regi- 
ment were  killed  or  wounded.  Here  Captain  Johann  Fried- 
rich  von  Riess  of  this  regiment  was  instantly  killed.  He 
was  a  brave  and  gallant  officer,  and  had  been  exerting  him- 
self in  the  most  praiseworthy  manner  to  urge  his  company 
to  make  an  effective  resistance.  Lieutenant  Georg  Christian 
Kimm  was  also  killed  by  the  side  of  Captain  vOn  Riess. 

A  moment  later  Lieutenant  Ernst  Christian  Schwabe  of  the 
same  regiment  received  a  severe  wound  through  the  thigh  ; 
and  as  he  was  being  carried  behind  Isaac  Yard's  house,  he 
called  out  to  Ensign  Friedrich  von  Zengen  to  take  command 
of  his  company,  and  exhorted  tbe  men  to  fight  bravely. 

Colonel  Rail  was  still  on  horseback,  and, his  force  was 
gathered  around  him.  Captain  Friedrich  Wilhelm  von  Ben- 
ning,  who  from  the  time  the  first  shot  had  been  fired  on 
the  picket  had  been  striving  most  gallantly  to  do  his  duty 
in  the  von  Lossberg  regiment,  was  now  instantly  killed,  and 
his  body  lay  in  the  street  where  he  fell.  Captain  Adam 
Christoph  Steding,  Lieutenant  Wilhelm  Christian  Miiller, 
Ensign  Christian  August  von  Hobe  and  some  of  the  bravest 
men  of  both  regiments  made  a  little  stand,  and  fired  at  the 
Americans  in  and  through  Church  alley,  desiring  to  delay 
and,  if  possible,  to  prevent  a  retreat.  The  two  regiments 
were  again  much  mixed  up,  although  the  men  were  appar- 
ently fighting  as  hard  as  they  could.  Ensign  von  Hobe  re- 
ceived a  spent  ball  in  his  leg,  and  he  hobbled  off  to  the  frame 
meeting  house  of  the  Methodists,  on  the  corner  of  Queen 
and  Fourth  streets,  for  protection  from  further  injury.  Lieu- 
tenant Georg  Hermann  Zoll,  the  von  Lossberg  regimental 
adjutant,  also  received  a  severe  wound  in  his  spine  from  a 
bullet  fired  from  a  house  by  a  keen-eyed  rifleman,  and  he  lay 
in  the  street  weltering  in  his  blood.  After  the  battle  he  was 
paroled,  but  he  remained  in  Trenton  several  months.  So 
the  stand  made  by  Captain  Steding  and  his  men,  while  it  had 
no  effect  on  the  Americans,  had  caused  a  loss  of  fifteen  men 
killed  and  wounded  of  his  own  little  party. 

Adjutant  Jacob  Piel  here  told  Colonel  Rail  that  he  thought 



Mi-nuoDisr  (.hur<:h,  (.urnlk 

they  should  retreat  to  the  Assunpink  Creek  bridge,  and  Rail 
sent  him  to  see  if  they  could  get  through.  He  went  down 
nearly  to  Major  \'on  Dechow's  quarters,  not  far  from  the 
corner  of  Queen  and  Second  streets,  and  found  that  the 
enemy  had  full  possession  of  the  bridge.  As  he  approached 
the  American  force,  he  mistook  them  in  the  storm  for  the 
men  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment,  and  he  was  within 
thirty  paces  of  them  before  he  discovered  his  mistake.  He 
reported  to  Colonel  Rail  that  it  was  then  too  late,  and  there- 
fore no  orders  were  issued  by  Rail  to  escape  by  this  bridge. 
The  Hessian  colonel  was  then  shouting  to  his  soldiers,  "  Alles 
was  meine  Grenadiere  sind,  vorwarts  !  "  ("All  who  are  my 
grenadiers,  forward  !  ")  But  in  \ain  he  urged  them  to  ad- 
vance. He  was  then  apparently  uncertain  just  what  to  do, 
and  as  the  valuable  moments  flew  by,  the  Americans 
pressed  closer  and  closer  on  him.  The  galling  fire  of  the 
patriot    army  was  doing  great  damage  among  the  Hessian 


troops.  The  bayonet,  on  which  Rail  had  boastingly  relied, 
did  not  now  prove  effective,  while  the  deadly  lead  was  every 
moment  disposing  of  his  fighting  men.  By  this  time  two 
cannon  of  Captain  Joseph  Moulder's  second  company  of 
artillery  of  Philadelphia  Associators,  attached  to  General 
Sullivan's  division,  had  opened  up  on  Queen  street  from 
the  corner  of  Second  street. 

According  to  the  statement  of  Ensign  Grabe,  an  order 
was  then  issued  by  Colonel  Rail  to  retreat  out  Third  and 
Fourth  streets  toward  the  apple  orchard.  The  command 
had  hardly  been  given  before  the  colonel  fell  from  his  horse 
with  two  fearful  wounds  in  his  side.  This  was  directly  in 
front  of  the  house  of  Isaac  Yard,  on  the  west  side  of  Queen 
street,  about  two  hundred  feet  north  of  Pinkerton's  alley, 
now  East  Hanover  street.  Colonel  Rail  lay  on  the  ground 
for  a  few  minutes,  and  then,  leaning  on  two  soldiers,  he 
walked  with  much  pain  out  of  the  street  and  into  the  Meth- 
odist Church,  on  Queen  and  Fourth  streets. ■' 

As  he  was  painfully  making  his  way  toward  the  church. 
Colonel  Rail  saw  Lieutenant  Zoll  lying  near  a  house,  severely 
wounded,  and  he  asked  him  if  he  was  injured.  On  receiving 
an  affirmative  reply.  Rail  said,  "  I  pity  you."  Zoll,  however, 
recovered,  but  Rail  died. 

The  retreat  through  the  two  short  streets  eastward  had 
begun  in  much  confusion,  as  Major  Matthaus  of  the  Rail 
regiment,  hurrying  up  to  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer,  at  the 
other  end  of  the  column,  informed  him  that  Colonel  Rail 
was  badly  wounded.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  said  that 
the  best  thing  to  do  now  was  to  break  through  anywhere 
and  escape.     Captain  Steding  and  his  men  were  still  making 

1  Some  histories  say  that  Major  Frederick  Frelinghuysen  of  the 
New  Jersey  militia  fired  the  shot  which  injured  Colonel  Rail.  It  is  ex- 
ceedingly doubtful  if  such  an  act  could  have  been  verified  even  at  the 
time,  and  Major  Frelinghuysen,  who  was  an  officer  on  the  staff  of  Gen- 
eral Philemon  Dickinson,  commanding  officer  of  the  New  Jersey  militia, 
is  supposed  to  have  been  where  his  duty  required  him  that  day,  —  on 
the  Pennsylvania  side  of  the  Delaware  River,  endeavoring  to  cross  with 
the  division  of  General  Ewing. 



some  futile  efforts  to  keep  the  Americans  in  check,  and  the 
retreat  eastward  had  begun  before  he  was  aware  of  it.  Lieu- 
tenant Miiller  called  out  to  him,  "  The  enemy  are  on  us  !  " 
and  it  was  with  great  difficulty  that  Captain  Steding  reached 
the  retreating  regiments. 

By  this  time  Captain  von  Altenbockum,  who  had  some- 
what recovered  from  the  shock  of  the  bullet  which  had 
struck  his  head,  having  mounted  Colonel  Rail's  horse,  rode 
after  his  regiment  toward  the  orchard.  He  was  soon  over- 
taken, however,  by  an  American  officer,  who  carried  him  to 


what  proved  to  be  Lieutenant-Colonel  Brethauer's  quarters. 
Here  that  officer  was  found  quite  ill  and  being  bled  by  a 
Hessian  surgeon. 

As  the  two  retreating  regiments  came  near  the  orchard, 
Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  and  Majors  von  Hanstein  and 
Matthaus,  the  three  remaining  field  officers,  held  a  brief 
council  of  war  as  to  what  was  now  to  be  done.  They  all 
agreed  that  they  must  immediately  make  one  desperate  ef- 
fort, and  if  possible  break  through  in  the  direction  of  the 
Brunswick  road,  or  cross  one  of  the  upper  fords  of  the  As- 
sunpink  Creek,  and  try  to  reach  Princeton.  When  they 
came  to  the  place  in  the  orchard  where  this  must  be  done,  if 
at  all,  they  saw  the  brigades  of  General  Stephen  and  General 


de  Fermoy,  with  two  well-formed  fronts  and  a  number  of  can- 
non, ready  to  receive  them.  Instantly  these  guns  began  to 
play  on  the  flanks  of  the  two  bewildered  regiments.  They 
wavered,  and  fell  back  fifty  paces  within  the  orchard. 

While  all  these  events  were  taking  place,  quite  a  demoral- 
ized party  of  stragglers  from  the  Rail,  von  Lossberg  and  von 
Knyphausen  regiments  tried  to  reach  the  Queen  street 
bridge,  but  were  caught  between  the  commands  of  General 
St.  Clair  and  Colonel  Sargent,  and  were  taken  prisoners  on 
Queen  street  between  Second  and  Front  streets.  They 
surrendered  in  front  of  what  is  now  Taylor  Opera  House, 
and  hence  this  is  often  erroneously  called  the  place  of  sur- 
render of  the  Hessian  troops. 

As  Sullivan's  division,  still  pursuing  the  main  body  of  the 
von  Knyphausen  regiment,  came  near  the  Presbyterian 
Church  on  Second  street,  a  vigorous  resistance  was  made 
for  a  few  moments  by  the  German  troops.  Here  Major 
Friedrich  Ludwig  von  Dechow,  the  commander  of  the  regi- 
ment, was  severely  wounded  in  the  left  hip,  and  his  horse 
also  being  wounded,  he  was  obliged  to  dismount.  Then, 
although  suffering  greatly,  he  took  his  adjutant's  horse,  and 
Lieutenant  Christian  Sobbe  having  assisted  him  to  mount, 
the  major  continued  with  his  regiment  down  the  field  and 
on  the  edge  of  the  apple  orchard,  bearing  rather  more  to- 
ward the  creek  than  keeping  to  the  road  which  led  through 
the  orchard  to  Samuel  Henry's  iron-works.  He  was  soon 
compelled  to  dismount  again,  however,  as  riding  made  his 
wound  more  painful.  Another  fine  officer  was  wounded  near 
the  church.  Lieutenant  Carl  Ludwig  von  Geyso ;  his  wound 
was  only  in  the  hand,  but  it  caused  him  much  pain.  The 
lieutenant  also  kept  on  with  his  company.  All  this  time 
not  one  gun  in  twenty  would  go  off  on  account  of  the  wet 

The  rush  of  the  American  brigade  on  Second  street,  with 
the  gallant  Colonel  Stark  still  leading  the  light  infantry  and 
shouting  as  he  drove  the  foe,  made  considerable  uproar  and 
kept  up  the  confusion  in  the  town.     The  rally  and  stand  of 


the  Hessians  was  soon  over,  and  they  were  hurried  into  a 
field  on  the  edge  of  the  orchard  east  of  what  is  now  Mont- 
gomery street  and  just  north  of  the  Assunpink  Creek. 

As  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  was  retreating  to  the 
low  ground  of  the  creek,  Captain  Bernhard  von  Biesenrodt 
came  up  to  Major  von  Dechow  and  asked  him  if  they  should 
not  make  an  effort  to  reach  the  stone  bridge.  They  were 
then  receiving  some  fire  from  Second  street  and  some  from 
the  vicinity  of  the  bridge,  but  they  were  unaware  of  the 
strength  of  the  force  at  the  latter  place. 


Without  having  given  any  definite  reply  or  new  orders 
to  Captain  von  Biesenrodt,  Major  von  Dechow,  wlio  had 
been  growing  weaker  and  weaker,  gave  up  the  command 
to  him,  as  next  senior  officer,  on  the  low  ground  near  the 
creek.  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  immediately  formed  the 
regiment  with  front  toward  the  town,  and  gave  orders  for 
them  to  march  by  the  left  to  the  bridge,  for  he  was  deter- 
mined to  take  it  and  effect  an  escape  at  any  cost.  He  soon 
found,  however,  that  the  narrow  bridge  was  strongly  guarded 
and  that  the  Americans  had  their  artillery  in  position  to 
command  it  from  the  heights  beyond.  He  then  halted  the 
von  Knyphausen  regiment,  wheeled  them  to  the  right,  took 
a  path  along  the  creek,  and  again  sought  the  outskirts  of  the 
orchard,  with  the  intention  of  trying  to  ford  the  creek  some- 
where. They  soon  found  themselves  in  a  bad  position,  on 
low,  swampy  ground,  with  a  thickly  wooded  elevation  in  front 
of  them  and  a  deep  and  broad  creek  in  their  rear.  The  von 
Borck  company  was  now  on  the  right  and  the  von  Dechow 
company  on  the  left  wings  of  the  regiment. 

The  two  von  Lossberg  cannon,  which  that  day  were  with 
the  von  Knyphausen  regiment,  here  became  stuck  in  the 
marshy  ground.  Much  valuable  time  was  lost  in  trying  to 
extricate  them  from  this  morass,  but  all  efforts  were  inef- 
fectual, and  at  last  the  cannon  were  abandoned.  While  the 
Hessians  were  struggling  to  recover  the  guns,  the  enemy 
began  to  fire  at  them  with  shot  and  shell  from  Captain- 
Lieutenant  Winthrop  Sargent's  Massachusetts  battery  across 
the  creek  on  the  high  ground  to  the  south. 

Major  von  Dechow,  who  had  been  leaning  against  a  fence 
while  these  movements  were  taking  place,  now  descried 
Captain    Ludwig   Wilhelm    von    Lowenstein   some    fifteen 


paces  away  and  called  to  him.  When  that  officer  came  up, 
von  Dechow  told  him  to  say  to  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  that 
he  would  better  surrender,  as  it  was  quite  evident  to  him 
that  the  Rail  and  von  Lossberg  regiments  were  about  to 
do  so.  Captain  von  Lowenstein  declared  that  he  would  not 
as  long  as  there  were  still  two  ways  of  escape  open.  "  I 
know,"  he  continued,  "  that  a  few  steps  from  where  we  are 
it  is  shallow  water  in  the  creek,  and  we  can  ford  it." 
Major  von  Dechow  replied :  "  I  order  you  to  tell  Captain 
von  Biesenrodt  what  I  have  said  to  you."  Then  von  Lowen- 
stein walked  over  to  Captain  von  Biesenrodt,  gave  him  the 
message,  to  which  he  received  no  response,  and  returned  to 
Major  von  Dechow.  That  officer  was  still  leaning  against 
the  fence  when  Captain  von  Lowenstein  came  to  him  and 
reported  Captain  von  Biesenrodt's  indifference  to  his  com- 
mands. Major  von  Dechow  then  repeated  them,  and  with 
the  aid  of  Corporal  Kustner  he  hobbled  along  Sunderland's 
alley,  now  East  Front  street,  toward  Queen  street.  The 
corporal  tied  a  white  handkerchief  on  a  spontoon,  which 
he  held  up  as  they  went  together  in  the  direction  of  Joshua 
Newbold's  house,  to  give  themselves  up  as  prisoners.  The 
men  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  were  afterward  much 
aggrieved  at  this  action  of  their  commander,  because,  as 
they  said,  by  this  he  gave  to  the  enemy  the  knowledge  of 
their  position,  which  must  have  been  much  hidden  by  the 
intervening  woods  at  the  time.  The  corner  of  Queen  and 
Front  streets  was  then  held  by  Colonel  Sargent's  brigade, 
Major-General  Sullivan  being  with  them.  Major  von  De- 
chow must  have  surrendered  and  given  up  his  sword  to 
General  Sullivan  as  soon  as  he  reached  Queen  street.  A 
strange  incident  is  found  in  the  German  records  at  Mar- 
burg, —  that  General  Sullivan  took  from  a  Hessian  officer 
the  knot  of  his  sword  and  fastened  it  to  his  own.  If  this 
really  happened,  this  was  the  time  and  place  of  the  occur- 
rence, and  Major  von  Dechow  was  the  Hessian  whose  sword- 
knot  was  fastened  to  the  sword  of  the  gallant  Sullivan. 

Captain  von  Biesenrodt  then  sent  Captain   von    Lowen- 


stein,  Staff-Captain  Jacob  Baum,  Lieutenant  Nicholas  Vau- 
pell,  Corporal  Heeland  of  the  von  Minnigerode  company 
and  some  few  soldiers  up  the  bank  of  the  creek  to  find  a 
place  where  a  crossing  would  be  feasible.  They  worked 
through  the  thick  underbrush  for  some  distance  until  they 
heard  a  friendly  voice  call  from  the  other  side  of  the  stream 
that  they  were  now  at  the  best  place  for  fording.  Several 
battalions  of  the  Americans,  the  men  of  Colonel  John 
Glover's  brigade,  could  then  be  seen  on  the  heights  lower 
down  the  creek.  Both  Captain  von  Lowenstein  and  Lieu- 
tenant Vaupell  went  down  into  the  ice-cold  water,  sounding 
its  depth  with  their  spontoons,  and  they  soon  determined 
that  the  passage  could  be  effected.  Captain  Barthold  Hel- 
frich  von  Schimmelpfennig,  Lieutenant  von  Geyso  and  a 
number  of  the  men  with  them  soon  joined  the  first  party 
and  told  them  that  their  regiment  was  really  surrounded 
and  must  soon  surrender,  and  that  they  had  determined  to 
take  the  risk  of  fording  the  creek,  although  the  men  then 
trying  it  were  up  to  their  necks  in  the  water  and  said  that 
the  bottom  was  muddy. 

All  the  servants  and  women  attached  to  the  several  regi- 
ments, with  the  exception  of  the  few  who  had  escaped  over 
the  bridge  at  the  first  alarm,  had  gathered  down  by  the 
creek  with  some  of  the  musicians,  and  a  lot  of  the  baggage  of 
the  Hessian  brigade.  These  men  and  women  made  a  great 
noise,  attracted  much  attention  and  increased  the  panic  and 
disorder  in  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment. 

We  left  the  Rail  and  von  Lossberg  regiments  within  the 
orchard  just  east  of  the  Friends'  Meeting  House  on  Third, 
now  East  Hanover  street.  They  could  easily  see  the  cor- 
don of  excited  American  soldiers  which  had  encircled  them, 
confident  of  victory,  and  the  line  of  guns  which  had  formed 
a  semicircle  before  them.  Captain  Forrest's  six-gun  battery 
had  come  down  from  the  head  of  Queen  street,  and  was 
now  ready  to  fire  upon  them.  Behind  these  guns  regiment 
after  regiment  stood  ready  to  execute  the  last  order,  which 
certainly  would  have  exterminated    them.     The  American 



officers  then  called  out  to  them  to  throw  down  their  arms 
and  surrender  or  they  would  be  shot  down.  Ensign  Carl 
Wilhelm  Kleinschmidt,  the  adjutant  of  the  Rail  regiment, 
had  become  slightly  familiar  with  the  English  language,  and 
he  interpreted  this  forcible  expression  to  his  comrades. 
The  American  line  was  now  within  sixty  feet  of  the  two 
German  regiments.      Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  called  out 


to  an  American  officer  who  was  mounted  in  front  of  him, 
that  he  believed  they  would  have  to  surrender.  An  office)-, 
apparently  an  aide  to  a  general  officer,  so  the  German 
records  read,  but  more  likely  I^ieutenant-Colonel  George 
Baylor,  one  of  General  Washington's  aides-de-camp,  rode  up 
to  the  Hessian  line,  where  he  was  met  by  Lieutenant-Colonel 
Scheffer  and  Major  von  Hanstein,  and  after  a  few  moments' 
conversation  they  separated,  and  the  two  regiments  surren- 
dered.     Then   the  ten    standards   were    lowered,   the    arms 


grounded,  and  the  officers  placed  their  hats  on  the  points 
of  their  swords  and  held  them  up  in  token  of  submission. 
Some  of  the  soldiers,  however,  inwardly  raging  at  this  indig- 
nity, broke  the  stocks  of  their  guns  against  the  ground, 
others  cut  the  straps  of  their  cartridge  pouches,  and  still 
others,  instead  of  placing,  their  guns  in  front  of  them  on  the 
ground  as  they  should  have  done,  according  to  the  custom 
of  war,  threw  them  as  far  as  they  could  into  the  woods. 
General  Lord  Stirling,  as  the  senior  officer  in  the  advance, 
rode  forward  and  received  the  swords  of  the  officers  who 
had  thus  surrendered,  and  placed  them  in  the  custody  of 
Colonel  Clement  Biddle,  deputy  quartermaster-general. 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Baylor  was  at  this  time  riding  back 
up  Queen  street  as  fast  as  his  horse  could  carry  him,  to  take 
the  good  news  to  General  Washington. 

While  these  ceremonies  were  being  performed,  the  von 
Knyphausen  regiment  under  Captain  von  Biesenrodt's  orders 
had  sent  out  Lieutenant  Werner  von  Ferry  with  a  detach- 
ment of  skirmishers  to  the  high  ground  in  the  direction  of 
the  rear  of  William  Roscoe's  house  and  the  Presbyterian 
Church,  to  see  if  the  enemy  were  approaching,  and  if  possi- 
ble to  cover  the  regiment  while  a  determined  effort  was 
made  to  cross  the  creek.  Then  Captain  von  Biesenrodt, 
again  saying  that  he  would  not  surrender,  gave  the  order 
for  the  regiment  to  go  down  to  where  Captain  von  Schim- 
melpfennig  and  Captain  Baum  could  be  seen  trying  to  wade 
across  the  creek.  By  this  time  they  could  hear  the  shout- 
ing of  the  Americans,  and  they  knew  full  well  that  the  other 
two  regiments  had  surrendered.  Soon  the  Continental 
troops  pressed  upon  the  Hessian  skirmishers,  and  they  were 
obliged  to  retreat,  as  three  cannon  were  turned  upon  them. 

In  the  mean  time  Lieutenant  Vaupell  was  well  across  the 
creek.  He  had  lost  his  footing  several  times,  but  had  caught 
a  root  of  a  tree  with  his  spontoon,  and  so  with  much  dif- 
ficulty and  clanger  was  now  nearing  the  opposite  shore.  He 
was  followed  by  Captain  von  Schimmelpfennig  and  Captain 
Baum  and  quite  a  number  of  their  men,  who  had  all  selected 

^'AIN    EFFORTS    TO    ]':SCAI'E 

1 ,83 

different  places  at  which  to  ford  the  stream.  Fusileer  Conrad 
Muhling  of  the  von  Borck  company  came  near  drowning, 
and  was  rescued  with  the  greatest  difficulty.  Lieutenant 
von  Geyso,  the  wounded  officer,  left  the  \'on  Knyphausen 
regiment  when  he  saw  that  its  capture  was  ine\'itable,  and 
made  his  way  across  the  creek.  Three  of  his  soldiers  who 
accompanied  him  were  carried  away  by  the  current,  and 
drowned.  Some  few  men  wdio  started  to  go  througli  the 
chilling  waters  of  the  stream,  and  found  it  very  deep,  turned 
about  and  rejoined  their  regiment. 

While   this  attempt  was   being  made,  St.    Clair's  brigade 




f ;, 



-idt ' 


i  >y. 





Bronze  TaUet  on  llio  Trenton.  Baltic  .Uonniiieiii 

(the  records  in  Germany  erroneously  refer  to  it  as  Stirling's 
brigade)  with  Captain  Moulder's  two  cannon  were  pressing 
on  toward  the  creek,  and  soon  the)'  faced  the  right  flank  of 
the  von  Knyphausen  regiment.  Halting  about  forty  paces 
distant,  they  fired  a  volley  at  the  regiment,  but  they  aimed 
too  high  for  execution.  An  American  officer,  probably 
Major  James  Wilkinson  (afterward  General  Wilkinson),  who 
was  General  St.  Clair's  aide-de-camp  that  day,  came  forward 
and  tried  to  attract  the  attention  of  Captain  von  13iesenrodt. 


The  captain  shouted  to  him  to  stop,  or  he  would  shoot 
him.  Lieutenant  Wiederhold,  the  officer  who  commanded 
the  Pennington  road  picket,  was  then  sent  out  to  talk  with 
the  American  officer.  On  his  return  to  the  regiment, 
Wiederhold  told  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  that  the  officer 
had  said,  in  behalf  of  General  St.  Clair,  that  they  must 
surrender,  as  the  other  two  regiments  had  done.  Firing  was 
still  heard  while  this  interview  was  taking  place,  presumably 
in  an  attempt  to  disable  the  men  who  were  trying  to  escape 
over  the  creek.  Lieutenant  Wiederhold  returned  to  the 
American  officer,  and  reported  that  Captain  von  Biesenrodt 
declined  to  surrender  his  command.  The  lieutenant  was 
then  taken  to  General  St.  Claii",  who  insisted  that  there  was 
nothing  further  to  do  ;  the  bridge,  the  fords,  the  roads  and 
the  passes  were  all  in  their  hands,  and  further  sacrifice 
of  life  was  useless.  "Tell  your  commanding  officer,''  he 
added,  "that  if  you  do  not  surrender  immediately,  I  will 
blow  you  to  pieces.  Go  and  bring  your  commandant  here," 
continued  General  St.  Clair,  and  after  a  brief  interval  Cap- 
tain von  Biesenrodt  approached.  Lieutenant  Wiederhold 
accompanying  him  as  interpreter.  General  St.  Clair  repeated 
his  severe  and  peremptory  threat.  Then  Captain  von  Bies- 
enrodt, by  this  time  clearly  seeing  the  perilous  situation  of 
his  regiment,  asked  that  his  officers  might  keep  their  swords 
and  baggage,  and  the  under-officers  their  swords  and  knap- 
sacks. This  was  granted,  and  General  St.  Clair  and  Captain 
von  Biesenrodt  shook  hands  over  the  agreement.  Lieutenant 
Wiederhold,  evidently  in  a  doubting  mood,  asked  if  this  pro- 
mise would  be  carried  out  strictly,  and  again  General  St. 
Clair  stated  it  emphatically.  The  order  was  then  given  by 
Captain  von  Biesenrodt  to  march  up  on  the  high  ground  to 
the  right,  and  there  to  surrender.  For  an  hour  the  promise 
given  by  General  St.  Clair  was  kept,  but  after  that  the  offi- 
cers were  compelled  to  give  up  their  swords,  and  the  ser- 
geants their  swords  and  knapsacks.  The  next  day,  however, 
all  the  officers  were  given  back  their  swords  by  General 
Washington's  order.     As  the  Hessian  regiment  threw  down 



their  firelocks,  the  patriot  troops  tossed  their  hats  in  the  air, 
and  a  great  shout  resounded  through  the  village,  as  the  sur- 
render was  made,  and  the  battle  of  Trenton  closed. 

General  St.  Clair  immediately  sent  Major  Wilkinson  to 
report  the  capture  of  the 
von  Knyphausen  regiment 
to  General  Sullivan,  and 
that  officer  directed  him  to 
inform  the  commander-in- 
chief.  He  came  up  to  Gen- 
eral Washington  as  the  lat- 
ter was  riding  down  King 
street,  and  Colonel  Rail 
was  being  carried  into  his 
quarters.  With  some  nat- 
ural elation  General  Wash- 
ington pressed  the  hand  of 
the  boyish  soldier,  and  said, 
"  This  is  a  glorious  day  for 
our  country.  Major  Wilkin- 
son." And  truly  it  was  a 
toward  retrieving  the  ill-fortune  had  been  made,  in  a  few  mo- 
ments a  series  of  disasters  had  been  changed  to  a  glorious 
victory,  and  the  declaration  of  independence  had  been  shown 
to  be  a  reality  by  the  most  brilliant  action  of  the  war. 

General  Sullivan  and  General  Lord  Stirling,  who  but  a 
few  months  before  had  become  the  prisoners  of  these  same 
Hessian  troops,  now  had  the  satisfaction  of  capturing  the 
very  soldiers  who  had  taken  them  at  the  battle  of  Long 

All  this  time  the  snow  and  rain  was  beating  on  the  two 
armies,  but  especially  in  the  faces  of  the  Hessians.  During 
their  march  from  McKonkey's  Ferry  the  Americans  had 
covered  the  firing-pans  of  their  guns  with  some  part  of  their 
clothing,  or  kept  them  dry  under  their  blankets.  They  were 
therefore  enabled  to  do  effective  work,  whereas  the  Hessian 
guns   could   not   be  discharged.     Many  of  the  Americans 


glorious  day.     The  first  step 


were  expert  I'iflenien,  and  tlie)'  had  concealed  themselves  in 
the  honses,  where  their  fii'earnis  were  preserved  from  the 
wet  weather  ;  and  thus,  somewhat  screened  from  the  fire  of 
the  If  essians,  the}'  had  from  the  windows  been  able  to  inflict 
considerable  damau:e  on  the  eneni)'. 

So  many  Hessian  officers  had  been  killed  (jr  wounded  that 
the  urbanizations  had  become  great])' disarranged,  and  it  was 
liai'd  for  thrise  who  remahiecl  to  keep  the  men  in  the  ranks 
in  an\'  kind  of  military  oi'der  or  discipline. 

It  woidd  seem  that  the  Americans  exaffo-crated  their  force 

l;Uli;ADII.I^-nENi:KAL    LORD    STrRLJN( 

when  they  stated  its  numbers.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Schef- 
fer  testified  that  they  told  him  that  General  Washington 
had  with  him  six  general  officers  and  Sooo  men,  with  four- 
teen six-pounders  and  two  howitzers.  This  was  correct 
if  the  statement  was  meant  to  include  his  whole  army  on 
both   sides  of  the  Delaware  Ri\'er,  but   of  course   it   is  well 

HOW    LONG    DID    THE    BATTLE    LAST?  187 

known  that  he  did  not  bring  8000  men  with  him  in  the 
attack  which  he  made  on  Trenton. 

Opinions  differ  as  to  the  length  of  time  taken  for  this 
battle.  In  examining  the  German  accounts  of  the  sur- 
prise, we  find  that  Captain  Steding  and  Lieutenant  Schwabe 
both  thought  that  the  attack  had  lasted  one  and  k  half 
hours,  Ensign  Hendorff  estimated  the  time  as  one  and 
three  quarter  hours,  and  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer,  Major 
von  Hanstein,  Captain  von  Altenbockum  and  Ensign  von 
Hobe  were  of  the  opinion  that  it  lasted  two  hours.  Cap- 
tain von  Altenbockum  and  Ensign  Hendorff  added  to  this 
statement  that  the  actual  battle  was  from  one  half  to  three 
quarters  of  an  hour.  We  must  then  infer  that  from  the 
time  when  the  picket  on  the  Pennington  road  was  attacked 
to  the  time  of  the  ceremony  incident  to  the  surrender  of 
the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  was  between  one  and  a  half 
and  two  hours.  Lieutenant  Piel,  who,  it  will  be  remem- 
bered, had  been  awake  since  five  o'clock,  said  that  it  was 
shortly  after  half  past  seven  when  the  picket  was  fired  on. 
Lieutenant  Miiller  stated  that  it  was  between  seven  and 
eight  o'clock,  and  the  opinion  of  Lieutenant  Sobbe  was  that 
it  was  eight  o'clock.  We  must  also  infer  that  the  actual 
fighting,  from  the  time  the  batteries  opened  at  the  head  of 
King  and  Queen  streets,  until  General  St.  Clair's  men  had 
fired  their  last  shots  at  the  Hessian  skirmishers,  was  only 
from  thirty  to  forty-five  minutes. 

The  Hessian  soldiers  did  all  that  surprised  and  bewildered 
men  could  do.  Their  irregular  defense  was  entirely  futile, 
when  opposed  by  the  irresistible  dash  and  impetuosity  of  the 
patriot  columns.  General  Washington  says,  "They  did  not 
make  any  regular  stand  ;  "  and  it  is  owing  to  the  feeble  show 
of  resistance  and  to  the  desperate  charge  of  the  Americans 
that  so  few  lives  were  lost  in  the  engagement. 

On  account  of  the  inability  of  Brigadier-General  E wing's 
division  to  cross  the  river  at  Trenton  Ferry,  a  number  of  the 
soldiers  of  Rail's  brigade  escaped  and  either  joined  Colonel 
von  Donop's  command  at  Bordentown,  or  passed  to  the  east 


of  the  village  of  Trenton,  and  took  the  Quaker  road,  finally- 
reporting  to  General  Leslie  at  Princeton.^ 

After  one  of  the  battalions  of  the  Rail  regiment  had  be- 
come demoralized,  many  of  the  men  had  sought  safety  in 
flight  down  Queen  street,  while  some  ran  down  King  street 
and  through  Pinkerton's  alley  to  Queen  street,  and  some  of 
the  other  battalion  of  the  Rail  regiment  pushed  down  King 
street  and  through  Front  street  ahead  of  the  American  col- 
umn, and  escaped  over  the  Assunpink  bridge.  A  few,  a  very 
few,  regaining  courage,  joined  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment. 
Ensign  Ludwig  Klnen  of  the  Rail  regiment,  a  brother  of 
Lieutenant  Ki'nen  of  the  same  organization,  arrived  in  Tren- 
ton with  his  company  December  12,  but  had  been  too  sick 
to  go  on  daily  duty.  A  few  days  before  the  battle  Colonel 
Rail  had  sent  him  to  Bordentown  with  some  baggage,  so  he 
was  not  made  a  prisoner,  and  may  fairly  be  numbered  among 
those  who  were  not  captured.^ 

In  reference  to  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment,  it  may  be 
noted  that  Captain  Baum,  Captain  von  Schimmelpfennig 
and  Lieutenant  Vaupell,  with  about  fifty  of  the  men  of  their 
regiment,  marched  toward  the  drawbridge  at  Crosswicks 
Creek  as  soon  as  they  had  forded  the  Assunpink  Creek;  but 
hearing  the  yagers  firing  off  their  guns  to  see  if  they  were 
in  order,  and  fearing  that  it  was  the  Americans  pursuing 
them,  they  turned  into  the  woods  on  the  east,  and  for  some 
time  were  unable  to  find  their  way.     At  last,  however,  they 

1  Mr.  Bancroft,  in  his  History  of  the  United  States,  says  that  the 
number  was  one  hundred  and  si.xty-two  (162)  men;  Von  Eelking,  in  his 
German  Auxiliaries  in  the  American  War  for  Independence,  ijjd  to 
1783,  makes  the  number  three  hundred  and  ninety-eight  (398)  men ;  and 
Quartermaster  Heusser  of  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  writes  that  it  was 
five  (5)  officers  and  one  hundred  and  fifty  (150)  privates.  The  resuh 
of  my  researches  indicates  that  the  number  was  thirteen  (13)  ofiicers 
and  three  liundred  and  ninety-nine  (399)  enUsted  men,  in  all  four  hun- 
dred and  twelve  (412)  soldiers.  This  number  includes,  of  course,  all  the 
men  of  Rail's  brigade  who  were  on  duty  at  the  two  detachments  on 
picket  duty  south  of  the  Assunpink  Creek,  whereas  two  of  the  estimates 
above  quoted  undoubtedly  do  not  include  these  outlying  picket  posts. 

^  For  names  of  those  who  escaped  capture  see  Part  ii.  No.  56. 


struck  the  Quaker  road,  and  reached  Princeton  at  about 
eight  o'clock  at  night.  When  he  ai-rived  there,  Captain 
Schimmelpfennig  was  very  ill  and  was  taken  to  the  hos- 
pital. The  weary  fugitives  told  General  Leslie  the  story  of 
the  fight,  which  was  the  first  news  he  had  received  of  this 
blow  to  the  British  cause.  The  enhsted  men  were  retained 
there ;  but  General  Leslie  sent  Captain  Baum  with  two  dra- 
goons to  General  Grant  at  Brunswick  to  inform  him  of  the 
details  of  the  disaster,  and  General  Grant  passed  him  on  to 
General  Erskine  at  Amboy,  from  which  place  he  was  dis- 
patched with  the  news  of  the  surrender  to  General  Howe 
at  New  York  city.  In  the  early  part  of  the  fight  Field 
Preacher  Wilhelm  Bauer  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment 
carefully  and  with  great  prudence  passed  over  the  bridge 
and  hurried  down  the  old  road  to  Bordentown.  Lieutenant 
von  Geyso  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment,  who  had  forded 
the  creek,  safely  reached  Bordentown,  and' reported  the  facts 
of  the  surprise  to  Lieutenant-Colonel  von  Minnigerode. 

At  the  yager  picket  post  of  one  officer  and  fifty  men  at 
General  Dickinson's  house  on  the  River  road,  all  escaped 
save  one,  who  was  captured.  Lieutenant  Friedrich  Wilhelm 
von  Grothausen  was  severely  censured  for  running  away 
without  making  much  of  a  fight,  but  only  a  week  later  he 
met  his  fate  not  far  from  the  bridge  over  which  he  and  his 
men  had  escaped  during  the  surprise  at  Trenton. 

The  twenty  British  dragoons,  a  detachment  of  the  Six- 
teenth regiment  of  the  Queen's  light  dragoons,  did  not 
tarry  in  the  town  long  after  the  engagement  opened.  In  no 
pubhshed  history  of  the  fight  and  in  no  manuscript  records 
can  the  slightest  mention  be  found  of  any  effort  of  these 
men  to  repel  the  hostile  army. 

The  guard  at  the  Assunpink  bridge,  nineteen  soldiers, 
after  doing  their  duty  for  a  short  time,  though  without  firing 
a  shot,  left  their  post  and  joined  the  fugitives.  One  soldier, 
however,  who  was  posted  in  front  of  Major  von  Dechow's 
quarters  was  killed.  Sergeant  Mueller  says  that  before  they 
left,  the  light  horse,  the  artillerymen,  the  yagers,  whom  the 


sergeant  upbraided  for  running  too  fast,  some  of  the  musi- 
cians, the  surgeons,  and  some  of  the  women  had  passed  over 
the  bridge  in  the  order  named.     Then,  he  says,  he  retired. 

The  picket  at  Trenton  Landing  —  one  officer,  and  twenty- 
seven  men  —  after  enduring  a  vigorous  sheUing  from  the 
Pennsylvania  shore,  one  of  their  number  being  wounded,  and 
having  learned  also  of  the  capture  of  their  comrades  in  the 
town,  moved  off  on  the  main  road  to  Bordentown  just  as 
twelve  boat-loads,  so  the  German  records  say,  of  American 
soldiers  reached  the  Jersey  shore  at  the  landing,  and  began 
to  form  back  of  the  "Doctor  House."  This  picket  reported 
at  the  drawbridge  to  Captain  Boking  of  the  Rail  regiment. 

The  picket  at  the  drawbridge  over  Crosswicks  Creek  of 
course  took  no  part  in  the  engagement,  and  escaped  capture. 
They  were  accordingly  not  counted  by  Mr.  Bancroft  in  his 
statement,  nor  were  they  included  in  that  of  Quartermaster 
Heusser ;  but  belonging  as  they  did  to  the  Rail  brigade,  they 
should  be  added  to  the  number  of  those  who  were  not  taken 
prisoners  of  war.  As  already  stated,  the  picket  was  com- 
posed of  four  officers  and  eighty-two  men.  Lieutenant  von 
Romrodt  and  his  men,  who  were  stationed  half  way  between 
Trenton  and  the  drawbridge  over  Crosswicks  Creek,  heard 
the  firing  incident  to  the  battle.  The  firing  of  the  cannon 
could  not,  however,  be  heard  at  the  drawbridge,  as  Lieuten- 
ant Hille  of  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  averred,  because  of 
the  wind  being  in  the  opposite  direction.  They  received 
the  news  about  ten  o'clock  from  fugitives  who  came  there, 
some  with  arms,  but  most  of  them  without  their  guns.  As 
soon  as  the  report  of  the  disaster  reached  him,  the  com- 
mandant at  this  picket  post  sent  the  news  to  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  von  Minnigerode,  who  commanded  at  Bordentown. 
He  instantly  dispatched  to  the  aid  of  the  picket  a  grenadier 
company,  commanded  by  Captain  Wilmowsky,  and  in  a  few 
minutes  the  whole  of  the  von  Minnigerode  battalion  followed. 
They  remained  at  the  drawbridge  about  two  hours,  and  then 
the  entire  force  received  orders  from  Colonel  von  Donop  to 
march  to  Bordentown  for  the  night. 



Some  historians,  referring  to  this  time,  make  the  state- 
ment that  after  the  attack  had  commenced  an  attemjit  was 
made  by  some  of  tlie  German  soldiers  to  harness  up  Irorses 
for  the  purpose  of  carrying  off  their  ill-gotten  spoils.  There 
is  no  doubt  that  the  Hessian  soldiery  at  Trenton,  foremost 
in  rapine  and  plunder  as  they  had  been  on  their  march 
through  New  Jersey,  were  well  supplied  with  articles  which 
the)-  did  not  care  to  lea\'e  in  the  hands  of  the  Americans. 
Howe\'er,  they  did  not  go  over  the  bridge  with  any  loaded 
wagons,  if  we  are  to  believe  the  German  records,  which  give 
with    great    precision    the   kind    and    condition    of   men   wlio 

\V.-\.Sl-il.\ini  IN     .\N[J    GREtNfc.     L.ALLIN 

.N1-:L     K.ALi 

escaped.  In  1780  Joseph  Galloway,  the  loyalist,  in  his  "  Let- 
ters Written  to  a  Nobleman  on  the  Conduct  of  the  War  in 
the  Middle  Colonies,"  says :  "  It  is  a  fact,  that  Colonel  Raille, 
although  he  had  sufficient  notice  of  the  enem}-'s  approach, 
could  not  form  his  men,  who,  more  attentive  to  the  safety  of 
their  plunder  than  their  duty,  and  engaged  in  putting  horses 


to  and  loading  their  waggons,  became  deaf  to  all  orders.  In 
this  state  they  were  surrounded  and  taken." 

The  Hessian  commander  was  grievously  wounded.  Poor 
Rail,  the  brave  and  dashing  colonel,  given  to  military  display, 
fond  of  the  parade,  proud  of  his  well-drilled  and  disciplined 
soldiers  as  they  marched  daily  on  the  streets  of  Trenton,  — 
this  courageous  officer  had  now  to  die.  Death  alone  could 
rid  him  of  the  heavy  responsibility  and  the  measure  of  dis- 
grace which  rested  on  him.  Soon  after  the  surrender  he 
was  placed  on  a  bench  in  the  Methodist  Church  on  Queen 
street,  and  carried  through  Church  alley  to  his  own  head- 
quarters on  King  street.  The  house  of  Stacy  Potts  had 
been  in  the  thickest  of  the  battle,  and  showed  the  effects  of 
shell  and  of  bullet.  A  pane  of  glass  through  which  a  bullet 
passed  remains  to  this  day  a  relic  of  the  fight.  In  disrobing 
the  wounded  commander,  the  note  of  Wall,  the  Bucks  County 
Tory,  came  to  light,  and  Rail,  when  he  understood  its  con- 
tents, simply  remarked,  "Hatte  ich  dies  zu  Herrn  Hunt  gele- 
sen,  so  ware  ich  jezt  nicht  hier."  ("If  I  had  read  this  at 
Mr.  Hunt's  I  would  not  be  here.") 

During  the  morning  General  Washington  and  General 
Greene  called  at  the  house  of  Mr.  Potts,  and  with  the  aid  of 
an  interpreter  held  a  brief  conversation  with  Colonel  Rail, 
and  took  his  parole  of  honor.^  Rail  begged  General  Wash- 
ington for  kind  treatment  to  his  men,  and  his  petition  was 
readily  granted.  General  Washington  also  spoke  a  few 
words  of  consolation  to  the  dying  soldier.  Colonel  Rail 
lingered  in  pain  during  the  night,  and  died  on  the  evening 
of  December  27.  The  German  documents  say  that  he  was 
buried  in  the  Presbyterian  churchyard  on  Second  street  (now 
State  street),  but  his  is  now  an  unknown  grave.  It  must 
have  been  in  ground  since  covered  by  the  present  church 
edifice.  When,  in  1838,  the  excavation  was  made  for  the 
foundation  of  the  church,  a  large  number  of  buttons  from 

^  A  large  painting  of  this  scene  was  executed  many  years  ago,  and  is 
now  in  possession  of  one  of  the  descendants  of  Stacy  Potts,  Joseph  P. 
Lloyd,  Esq.,  of  Orange,  New  Jersey. 


Hessian  uniforms  were  found.  Lieutenant  Kitnen  of  Rail's 
regiment  wrote  this  epitaph,  which  was  never  placed  above 
him:  "Hier  liegt  der  Oberst  Rail,  mit  ihm  ist  alles  all!" 
("  Here  lies  Colonel  Rail,  with  him  all  is  over !  ") 


The  loss  of  the  American  army  in  this  affair  was  very 
small,  being,  as  General  Washington  reported,  two  officers 
and  two  privates  wounded.  The  officers  referred  to  were 
Captain  William  Washington  and  Lieutenant  James  Monroe, 
who  were  injured  in  the  charge  on  the  enemy's  guns  on 
King  street,  and  one  of  the  privates  wounded  was  young 
Robert  James  Livingston,  of  the  Hunterdon  County  militia, 
afterward  an  ensign  in  the  Fifth  Virginia  regiment,  and 
who  had  matriculated  at  Princeton  College  and  joined  the 
force  as  a  volunteer.  On  being  wounded,  he  was  cared 
for  by  Miss  Rebecca  Coxe,  who  lived  opposite  the  English 
Church  on  King  street.  Some  histories  tell  us  that,  in  addi- 
tion to  these  four  wounded  soldiers,  two  officers  were  killed 
and  two  frozen  to  death.  This  statement  cannot  now  be 
officially  confirmed. 

It  will  always  seem  strange  to  the  student  of  this  battle 
that  no  greater  damage  was  inflicted  on  the  Americans  by 
these  German  veterans,  while  the  Hessian  troops  suffered 
so  severely  in  proportion  to  their  numbers  and  the  short 
duration  of  the  fight.  As  we  look  at  the  facts  to-day,  it 
seems  remarkable  ;  but  the  German  records  give  us  the 
Hessian  loss,  and  General  Washington  reported  the  casualties 
of  his  patriot  band.  We  can  only  attempt  to  account  for  it 
by  the  fact  that  the  Germans  made  no  real  stand,  that  a 
number  of  their  guns  failed,  and  that  the  surprise  was  so 
sudden  and  the  onset  so  persistently  followed  up  that  they 
could  not  make  their  fire  effective.  Even  with  this  endeavor 
to  explain  the  situation,  we  still  wonder  at  the  difference 
between  the  casualty  lists. 

The  Rail  regiment  had  on  duty  with  the  brigade  1 1  offi- 
cers and  512  men.     Eighty-seven  of  these  men  were  either 


on  guard  or  on  picket  that  day.  Those  actually  in  the  fight 
during  the  few  moments  before  the  surrender  were  Major 
Matthaus,  Captain  Brubach,  Lieutenant  Salzmann,  Ensign 
Fleck  and  Ensign  Schroeder,  —  5  oificers  and  425  enlisted 

The  von  Lossberg  regiment  had  16  officers  and  467  en- 
listed men  in  service  at  the  beginning  of  the  fight. 

The  von  Knyphausen  regiment  began  the  battle  with 
12  officers  and  429  men  on  duty  with  the  command. 

Counting  Colonel  Rail  as  killed,  the  Rail  regiment  had  i 
officer  and  12  men  killed,  and  i  officer  and  10  men  wounded; 
the  von  Lossberg  regiment  had  3  officers  and  4  men  killed, 
and  4  officers  and  5  5  men  wounded ;  the  von  Knyphausen 
regiment,  counting  Major  von  Dechow  as  killed,  had  i  officer 
and  I  man  killed,  i  officer  and  1 3  men  wounded.  The  artil- 
lery detachment  had  8  men  wounded ;  but  as  these  were 
assigned  for  duty  with  the  artillery  detachments  and  really 
belonged  to  the_  infantry  regiments,  they  are  included  in  the 
losses  previously  given. 

The  casualties  in  the  brigade  were  therefore  5  officers 
killed  and  6  officers  wounded,  17  men  killed  and  78  men 
wounded,  a  total  of  106  killed  and  wounded,  as  appears  by 
the  official  records.  Twenty-four  of  these  soldiers  —  and 
some  of  the  severely  wounded  must,  of  course,  have  died 
very  soon  —  were  all  buried,  so  tradition  tells  us,  in  one 
place  in  the  Presbyterian  churchyard.  If  this  is  correct, 
their  common  grave  must  have  been  in  ground  now  covered 
by  the  First  Presbyterian  Church. 

In  reference  to  the  number  of  prisoners  taken  at  Trenton 
by  the  American  army,  the  return  of  Sir  George  Osborn, 
muster-master-general  of  the  British  army,  states  that  the 
loss  was  700.     This  number  is  manifestly  incorrect. 

General  Howe  made  a  return  to  the  British  government 
of  the  loss  at  Trenton,  including  killed,  wounded  and  pris- 
oners, as  I  colonel,  2  lieutenant-colonels,  3  majors,  4  captains, 
8  lieutenants,  12  ensigns,  2  surgeons,  92  sergeants,  20  drum- 
mers, 9  musicians,  25  officers'  servants,  740  rank  and  file. 
Total,  918. 


General  Washington  made  a  return  to  the  Continental 
Congress,  and  appended  it  to  his  report  of  the  battle,  written 
December  27,  1776.  There  is  no  doubt  that  General  Howe 
copied  the  statement  of  casualties  in  his  report  to  the  king 
from  that  of  General  Washington,^  as  the  figures  exactly 

The  official  list  of  prisoners  as  made  out  by  the  command- 
ing officers  of  the  three  Hessian  regiments  and  the  lieutenant 
of  artillery  on  the  5th  day  of  January,  1777,  while  the  officers 
were  still  in  Philadelphia,  shows  a  total  force  of  868  officers 
and  men.  2 

Taking  the  total  number  of  officers  and  men  killed, 
wounded  and  captured  to  have  been  918  soldiers,  as  it  was 
given  by  General  Washington  and  appropriated  by  General 
Howe,  and  comparing  this  statement  with  the  number  of 
prisoners  which  the  Hessian  officers  themselves  acknow- 
ledged had  been  captured,  that  is  868  soldiers,  we  find  that 
22  were  killed,  28  of  the  wounded  were  left  on  parole  in 
Trenton,  and  that  of  the  868  prisoners  of  war  who  were 
taken  over  the  Delaware  River  on  December  26,  56  had  in 
some  way  been  wounded.^ 

We  are  given  a  fair  idea  of  the  kind  of  men  in  the  rank 
and  file  of  the  prisoners  by  their  several  trades.  We  find 
among  them  82  weavers,  49  tailors,  38  shoemakers,  16 
smiths,  15  carpenters,  15  wagon-makers,  12  masons,  10  join- 
ers, 9  butchers,  7  plasterers,  7  stocking-weavers,  6  bakers,  6 
millers,  etc.  This  list  was  prepared  in  Lancaster,  Pennsyl- 
vania, January  10,  1777,  and  contains  the  occupations  of  315 
of  the  830  soldiers  in  that  city  at  that  date. 

Colonel  Johann  Gottlieb  Rail  was  born  in  June,  1725,  and 
when  quite  a  young  man  entered  on  the  study  of  a  military 
life.  During  the  Seven  Years'  War  he  gained  considerable 
experience  in  his  profession  under  the  Duke  of  Brunswick, 

'  For  Washington's  return  see  Part  ii.  No.  57. 
^  For  these  statements  see  Part  ii.  No.  58. 

'  For  roster  of  ofificers  of  Rail's  brigade,  with  biographical  sketches, 
see  Part  ii.  No.  59. 



and  he  served  for  glory  as  a  \'olunteer  under  Orloff  against 
the  Turks.  In  1764  he  is  recorded  in  the  Hessian  State 
and  Court  Calendar  as  lieutenant-colonel  in  the  garrison  regi- 
ment Stein.  In  the  following  year,  and  until  the  year  1771, 
he  held  the  same  position  in  the  garrison  regiment  Held- 
ring.  In  1772  the  name  of  the  grenadier  regiment  Muller 
was  changed  to  the    grenadier  regiment   Rail,  and  he  was 


appointed  its  colonel  and  commandant.  As  such  he  landed 
in  America,  at  New  Utrecht,  Long  Island,  August  25,  1776, 
with  Lieutenant-General  de  Heister's  first  division  of  Hes- 
sian troops.  Two  days  afterward  he  took  part  in  the  battle 
of  Long  Island.  He  fought  well  at  Fort  Washington 
November    16,    1776,    and   was    then    placed    in   charge   of 


the  brigade  which  was  afterward   assigned  to   the  post  at 

The  character  of  Colonel  Rail  has  been  variously  and 
often  erroneously  described  by  historical  writers.  Prefer- 
ring the  delineations  of  his  traits  made  by  German  critics, 
and  especially  by  the  late  Dr.  Friedrich  Kapp,  the  learned 
and  accomplished  biographer  of  General  De  Kalb  and 
General  Steuben,  we  must  speak  of  the  Hessian  colonel  as 
liberal,  hospitable  and  generous.  As  commander  of  a  bat- 
talion he  displayed  undoubted  courage,  and  he  performed 
acts  of  great  bravery  at  Long  Island,  White  Plains  and  Fort 
Washington.  As  a  soldier  he  was  terribly  in  earnest,  and 
few  officers  displayed  greater  military  skill  in  battle.  He 
always  personally  sought  the  most  perilous  post  in  the  mo- 
ment of  attack.  His  British  comrades  admired  him  greatly 
and  called  him  the  "  Hessian  lion."  To  the  Americans  he 
was  terror  personified.  Yet  with  all  these  commendable 
characteri|fetics  he  lacked  a  cool  temper,  sound  judgment  and 
a  habit  of  quick  resolve.  His  deficiency  in  these  respects, 
while  it  n)ight  not  deter  him  from  properly  executing  orders 
given  him,  certainly  rendered  him  unfit  for  holding  a  "general 
officer's  cpmmand.  Always  successful  heretofore  in  every 
trust  confided  to  him,  despising  as  he  did  the  American 
force  and  Underestimating  its  valor,  he  neglected  the  sim- 
plest precautions  to  prevent  surprise. 

Captain  Friedrich  Ernst  von  Miinchhausen,  General 
Howe's  adjutant,  says  of  Colonel  Rail  that  if  he  had  not  lost 
his  life  in  this  battle  he  would  certainly  have  lost  his  head. 

Lieutenant  Andreas  Wiederhold,  a  rather  self-sufiScient 
ofificer  who  had  commanded  the  Pennington  road  picket  on 
that  eventful  morning,  gives  in  his  journal  a  severe  and  per- 
haps unjust  and  prejudiced  account  of  the  man  :  — 

"  He  (Rail  himself)  believed  the  name  of  Rail  more  perfect 
and  redoubtable  than  all  the  works  of  Vauban  and  Cohorn, 
and  that  no  rebel  would  dare  to  encounter  it.  A  fit  man 
truly  to  command  a  corps  !  and  still  more  to  defend  a 
place  lying  so  near  an  enemy  having  a  hundred  times  his 


advantages.  Everything  with  him  was  done  heedlessly 
and  without  forecast."  .  .  .  "There  was  more  bustle  than 
business  at  the  post.  The  men  were  harassed  with  watches, 
detachments  and  pickets  without  purpose  and  without  end. 
The  cannon  must  be  drawn  forth  every  day  from  their 
proper  places  and  paraded  about  the  town  seemingly  only  to 
make  a  stir  and  uproar."  .  .  .  "Whether  his  men  when  off 
duty  were  well  or  ill  clad,  whether  they  kept  their  muskets 
clean  and  bright  and  their  ammunition  in  good  order  was 
of  little  moment  to  the  colonel,  he  never  inquired  about 
it ;  but  the  music  !  that  was  the  thing !  the  hautboys  —  he 
never  could  have  enough  of  them.  The  watch-guard  was 
at  no  great  distance  from  his  quarters  and  the  music  could 
not  linger  there  long  enough.  There  was  a  church  close 
by  surrounded  with  a  picket  fence  and  a  gate  in  front ! 
The  officer  on  guard  must  march  round  and  round  it,  with 
his  men  and  musicians,  looking  like  a  Roman  Catholic  pro- 
cession, wanting  only  the  cross  and  the  banner  and  chant- 
ing choristers  to  lead.  He  followed  the  parade  every  time 
on  releasing  the  guards  in  order  to  hear  the  music.  The 
guards  were  released  at  two  o'clock  and  the  pickets  at  four 
o'clock.  All  officers  and  non-commissioned  officers  had  to 
be  on  duty  at  that  time  so  as  to  make  a  grand  headquarters. 
The  cannon  instead  of  being  out  at  the  head  of  the  streets 
where  they  could  be  of  use,  were  in  front  of  his  quarters 
and  two  of  them  had  to  be  paraded  to  the  lower  part  of  the 
town  every  morning  and  back  again  so  as  to  make  all  the 
display  possible.  He  gave  himself  all  the  pleasure  he  could 
up  to  a  late  hour  at  night,  and  then  going  to  bed  slept  until 
nine  o'clock  in  the  morning.  When  we  came  at  ten  o'clock 
for  parade  to  his  quarters  we  had  many  times  to  wait  a  half 
hour,  because  he  had  not  finished  his  usual  bath." 

In  his  interesting  journal  Quartermaster  Heusser  of  the 
von  Lossberg  regiment  makes  these  remarks  on  the  char- 
acter of  Colonel  Rail  and  his  conduct  in  the  fight  :  — 

"  Our  commander  was  too  proud  to  retreat  a  step  before 
such  an  enemy  as  the  Americans.     He  did  not  suppose  the 


rebels  would  wager  a  battle  with  him.  If  General  Howe 
had  judged  him  accurately  he  would  never  have  trusted  him 
with  such  an  important  post.  He  was  a  born  soldier  but 
never  a  commanding  general.  Although  he  had  deservedly 
won  the  greatest  honor  at  Fort  Washington,  where  he  fol- 
lowed the  orders  of  a  great  general,  he  lost  all  his  praise  and 
all  his  glory  at  Trenton,  where  he  was  in  command  himself. 
He  had  the  necessary  courage  to  attempt  the  most  daring 
acts,  but  he  lacked  the  cool  presence  of  mind  absolutely 
essential  in  the  event  of  a  surprise.  He  was  full  of  activity 
and  very  lively  in  his  nature,  one  thought  quickly  crowded 
out  another  and  he  did  not  come  to  any  fixed  resolve.  He 
was  to  be  esteemed  as  a  generous  and  a  hospitable  man, 
polite  to  every  one,  kind  to  his  subordinates  and  to  his  ser- 
vants. Devotedly  fond  of  music,  he  was  agreeable  in  all 
social  gatherings." 

In  a  statement  dated  at  Homberg,  in  Hesse,  September 
1 6,  1787,  General  von  Heister's  son.  Cornet  Carl  Levin  von 
Heister,  attached  to  the  Hesse-Cassel  body  dragoon  regi- 
ment, and  at  the  time  of  the  battle  acting  as  adjutant  to 
Colonel  von  Donop,  speaks  of  Colonel  Rail  as  "A  very  brave 
man,  who  had  shown  his  spirit  and  courage  on  every  occa- 
sion where  he  had  been  directed  to  attack  an  enemy.  His 
experiences  in  German  wars,  his  life  in  Turkey,  where  he 
went  as  a  volunteer  in  the  Russian  army,  did  not  fit  him  in 
any  way  to  defend  a  post.  His  success  at  White  Plains  and 
at  Fort  Knyphausen  made  him  proud,  and  he  thought  his 
name  and  the  name  of  his  brigade  would  serve  as  a  strong 
protection  of  the  post  at  Trenton.  He  never  thought  the 
rebels  would  dare  to  attack  him,  and  this  made  him  careless 
in  preparations  for  defense." 

The  only  Hessian  writer  who  fails  to  blame  Colonel  Rail 
is  Captain  Johann  Ewald  of  the  corps  of  yagers.  He 
throws  the  responsibility  on  his  own  chief,  Colonel  von 
Donop  :  "  He  was  not  able  to  tell  a  sham  attack  from  a  real 
one  and  foolishly  took  his  force  out  of  supporting  distance 
of  Rail's  command.     As   Colonel  Rail  lost  his  life  in  the 

A   WORD    FOR   COLONEL   RALL  ^oi 

fight,  and  was  therefore  unable  to  defend  himself  in  person, 
the  blame  will  forever  rest  on  him.  His  memory  has  been 
cursed  by  German  and  English  soldiers,  many  of  whom 
were  not  fit  to  carry  his  sword."  Captain  Ewald  concedes 
that  perhaps  Colonel  Rail  did  wrong  in  allowing  the  enemy 
to  get  so  near  to  him,  and  that  the  oi^cers  at  the  picket 
post  should  have  been  alert  enough  to  have  discovered  the 
Americans  in  time.  "  If,"  he  continues,  "  Colonel  Rail  had 
not  been  wounded,  his  three  regiments  of  brave  men  would 
have  disputed  every  foot  of  the  land,  but  when  he  was  shot 
there  was  not  an  officer  who  had  the  courage  to  take  up  the 
half-lost  battle." 

At  the  time  of  the  surrender  many  of  the  Hessians  hid  in 
the  houses  of  their  Tory  friends,  but  most  of  them  were 
finally  secured  and  carried  off  as  prisoners  of  war.  In  this 
way  the  number  of  men  captured  was  increased.  On  De- 
cember 29  General  Washington  reported  a  few  more  pris- 
oners, among  them  a  lieutenant-colonel  and  a  deputy  adju- 
tant-general, —  no  doubt  included  in  the  lists  heretofore 
given,  —  and  he  stated  that  the  prisoners  now  numbered 
about  1000. 

In  addition  to  capturing  some  of  the  best  troops  of  the 
Hessian  mercenaries,  the  American  troops  took  six  double 
fortified  brass  three-pounders,  three  ammunition  wagons, 
four  wagons  full  of  baggage,  40  horses,  about  1000  arms 
and  accoutrements,  12  drums  and  15  army  colors.  Two  of 
these  cannon  were  used  by  the  Americans  at  the  battle  of 
Brandywine,  September  11,  1777,  where  they  were  captured 
by  the  British  forces. 

On  page  28  of  the  second  volume  of  Max  von  Eelking's 
work,  "  The  German  Allies  in  the  American  Revolutionary 
War,"  Hanover,  1863,  the  statement  is  made,  referring  to 
the  battle  of  Stono  Ferry,  South  Carolina,  June  20,  1779, 
that  "the  guns  and  flags  taken  from  the  Hessians  at  Tren- 
ton were  recovered  at  that  place."  This  is  given  on  the 
authority  of  a  manuscript  diary  of  non-commissioned  officer 
Reuber  of  the  Rail  regiment.     In  a  footnote  von  Eelking 


says  that  Reuber  twice  mentions  this  fact,  and  he  adds  that 
the  guns  were  immediately  turned  over  to  the  regiment  von 
Trumbach,  but  the  flags  were  retained  until  the  Hessian 
troops  returned  to  Cassel.  Von  Eelking  also  adds  that 
there  is  no  explanation  as  to  how  the  guns  were  placed  on 
the  vessel,  probably  meaning  the  Rattlesnake,  an  American 
man-of-war  which  had  been  disabled  by  the  guns  attached 
to  the  regiment  von  Wissenback  and  the  fire  of  the  Six- 
teenth regiment  of  British  grenadiers.  He  speaks  of  this 
action  as  a  "rare  capture." 

The  accuracy  of  this  statement  is  somewhat  doubtful.  As 
has  been  noted,  two  of  the  cannon  were  retaken  at  Brandy- 
wine,  and  there  is  only  a  possibility  that  the  remaining  four 
may  have  been  placed  on  the  man-of-war  captured  in  the 
South  Carolina  waters.  It  is  not  to  be  supposed  for  one 
moment  that  the  Hessian  standards  also  were  taken  to 
South  Carolina,  for  what  object  would  have  been  gained  by 
such  a  disposition  of  them  .''  One  standard,  if  not  all,  cer- 
tainly passed  into  the  possession  of  the  Continental  Congress, 
and  that  one  was  burned  in  the  fire  in  the  museum  at  Alex- 
andria, Virginia. 

In  the  letter  of  William  Ellery,  delegate  in  Congress  from 
Rhode  Island,  dated  Baltimore,  December  31,  1776,  and 
written  to  Governor  Nicholas  Cooke  of  that  State,  we  find  a 
description  of  one  of  the  Hessian  silken  standards  which 
had  just  been  hung  in  the  room  where  Congress  was  in 
session.  1 

1  "  In  the  centre  of  a  green  field  of  about  four  or  five  feet  is  a  decorated 
gilded  circle,  which  incloses  a  lion  rampant,  with  a  dagger  in  his  right 
paw  and  this  motto  in  the  upper  part  of  it,  Nescit  Pericula ;  the  crest 
is  a  crown,  with  a  globe  and  cross  upon  it ;  in  the  corner  are  gilded 
decorated  circles  and  globes  and  crosses  on  their  tops  and  in  the  middle 
F.  S.  in  cyphers ;  a  broad  blaze  extends  from  the  corners  to  the  piece 
in  the  centre  and  three  small  blazes  are  placed  in  the  field,  one  in  the 
middle  of  the  side  next  the  staff,  one  in  the  opposite  side  and  one  in 
the  middle  on  the  lower  side  or  bottom." 

The  motto  here  given,  Nescit  Pericula,  a  contempt  of  danger,  was 
certainly  ill-suited  to  the  retreating  and  vanquished  Hessians,  and  it 



It  may  be  of  interest  to  add  an  extract  from  the  history 
of  the  fusilier  regiment  von  Lossberg,  as  taken  from  the 
records  of  Hesse-Cassel,  which  refers  to  the  capture  of  Tren- 
ton. As  Lieutenant  Piel,  the  brigade  adjutant,  uses  simi- 
lar language  in  his  diary  now  on  file  in  the  same  office  of 
records,  it  is  quite  probable  that  he  wrote  the  report  of  the 


fight  for  Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer,  the  senior  officer  sur- 
viving. It  is  scarcely  necessary  to  draw  special  attention 
to  its  greatly  exaggerated  statement  of  General  Washing- 
brought  forth  this  amusing  doggerel  in  one  of  the  papers  of  the  day, 

X!a&  Freeman's  Journal  oi  February  11,  1777:  — 
"  The  man  who  submits  without  striking  a  blow, 
May  be  said,  in  a  sense,  no  danger  to  know, 
I  pray  then  what  harm,  by  the  humble  submission 
At  Trenton  was  done  to  the  standard  of  Hessian  ?  " 

Another  of  the  standards  taken  was  the  beautiful  flag  of  the  von 
Lossberg  regiment.  It  was  of  white  silk  and  about  four  feet  square, 
the  embroidery  and  letters  being  worked  in  gold  silk.  On  one  side  was 
a  crown,  a  monogram  E  C  T  S  A  and  the  letters  M  L  B  'i  775,  and  on 
the  other  side  an  eagle  with  an  olive  branch,  and  the  motto,  scarcely 
less  inappropriate  than  the  other.  Pro  principe  et  patria  —  for  prince 
and  country. 

It  will  be  noticed  that  some  of  the  returns  report  three  colors  as 
captured,  others  four  standards,  and  still  others  fifteen  colors.  It  is 
difficult  to  reconcile  these  statements.  We  can  only  infer  that  in  the 
first-named  return  rnention  is  made  simply  of  the  three  regimental 
flags,  in  the  second  the  artillery  flag  is  added,  and  in  the  third  report 
the  little  company  guidons  are  also  included  in  the  number. 


ton's  force.  All  Hessian  accounts  seem  to  make  the  Amer- 
ican attacking  party  at  least  7000  men.  This  is  the  number 
stated  in  the  German  biography  of  General  von  Ochs. 

"  On  December  24,  1776,  Rail's  brigade  occupied  the 
town  of  Trenton  on  the  Delaware  River.  The  enemy  was 
on  the  other  side  of  this  river  and  as  he  had  boats  and  we 
had  not,  they  could  cross  and  disturb  us  at  every  hour.  On 
the  evening  of  the  25th,  at  dark,  they  attacked  our  outposts, 
but  retired  at  once  having  wounded  six  of  our  men.  On  the 
morning  of  the  26th  between  seven  and  eight  o'clock,  we 
were  regularly  attacked  by  a  corps  of  six  to  seven  thousand 
men  under  General  Washington.  Our  outposts  were  soon 
forced  to  retire,  and  we  had  scarcely  time  to  take  up  arms, 
while  we  lost  many  men  in  consequence  of  the  fire  of  small 
arms  and  cannon  in  the  town.  We  were  surrounded  from 
all  sides,  but  we  defended  ourselves  for  fully  two  hours  until 
the  regiment  von  Knyphausen  was  cut  off  from  us.  Our 
muskets  could  not  fire  any  more  on  account  of  the  rain  and 
snow,  and  the  rebels  fired  on  us  from  within  the  houses. 
Nothing  therefore  was  left  to  us  but  to  surrender  as  pris- 
oners of  war.  The  regiment  von  Lossberg  lost  in  this  affair 
seventy  men  killed  and  wounded.  Among  the  first  were 
Captains  von  Riess  and  von  Benning  and  Lieutenant  Kimm, 
while  Captain  von  Altenbockum  and  Lieutenants  Schwabe 
and  Zoll  were  among  the  wounded.  Our  whole  disaster 
was  entirely  due  to  Colonel  Rail.  He  did  not  think  it  pos- 
sible that  the  rebels  would  ever  dare  to  attack  us,  and  thus 
he  neglected  all  preparations  against  any  attack.  I  must 
confess  that  we  thought  too  slightly  of  the  rebels,  who  thus 
far  had  never  been  able  to  resist  us.  Our  Brigadier  was  too 
proud  to  withdraw  one  inch  before  such  an  enemy,  otherwise 
we  would  have  had  no  other  remedy  left  to  us  but,a  retreat. 
Colonel  Rail  was  mortally  wounded  and  died  the  next  even- 
ing, happy  that  he  was  not  bound  to  survive  his  honor. 
If  General  Howe  had  judged  this  officer  correctly  he  would 
hardly  have  trusted  him  with  so  important  a  post  as  that  of 
Trenton.     Colonel  Rail  was  a  good  soldier  but  a  bad  Gen- 

ANOTHER    ESTIMATE    OF    COLONEL    RALL         205 

eral.  This  officer,  who  at  the  capture  of  Fort  Washington 
had  won  the  highest  honor  because  he  fought  under  a  good 
General,  lost  all  his  reputation  at  Trenton  where  he  himself 
was  general.  He  had  great  courage  and  undertook  the  most 
daring  enterprises  but  he  lacked  the  cool  presence  of   mind 









W'^  /'  '"■ 








l             W 





-     ^^~^B 


I^HhB^^^^  "''^ 




m   \m 


,     - 



/  -- 













-    '     "^P 






^^^^■j  sSt' 





>lom:l   hiii\kv   k>^ox 

which  on  such  occasions  as  the  attack  at  Trenton  are 
wanted.  His  vivacity  was  too  great.  One  idea  supplanted 
another  in  his  mind  and  therefore  he  was  unable  to  arrive  at 
a  fixed  determination.  As  a  private  gentleman  he  deserves 
the  highest  respect.  He  was  generous,  liberal  and  hospita- 
ble towards  all,  dignified  with  his  superiors,  but  kind  to  his 
inferiors.     To   his   servants  he   was  more  a   friend    than  a 


master.      He  was   exceedingly  fond  of   music  and  a  very 
agreeable  companion." 

It  may  be  mentioned  here  in  reference  to  the  conduct 
of  the  American  troops  in  the  battle,  as  stated  in  a  letter 
written  by  Captain  William  Hull  of  the  Seventh  Connecticut 
Continental  regiment,  that  "  General  Washington  highly 
congratulated  the  men  the  next  day  in  General  Or,ders,  & 
with  pleasure  observed  that  he  had  been  in  many  actions 
before,  but  always  perceived  some  misbehaviour  in  some 
individuals,  but  in  that  action  he  saw  none." 

As  the  British  were  in  strength  at  Princeton  and  at  Bor- 
dentown,  it  was  deemed  prudent  that  the  Americans  should 
return  to  their  former  posts  on  the  west  bank  of  the  Dela- 
ware River.  This  course  was  agreed  upon  at  a  council  of 
officers,  though  General  Greene  and  Colonel  Knox  dissented 
and  urged  a  following  up  the  surprise  by  a  rapid  pursuit  of 
the  foe.  It  was  thought,  however,  that  the  prisoners,  artil- 
lery, horses,  stores,  arms  and  ammunition  which  had  been 
captured  would  be  much  safer  on  the  other  side  of  the  river 
and  the  officers  generally  did  not  care  to  risk  the  posses- 
sion of  the  trophies  of  their  victory. 

In  a  fragmentary  narrative  of  the  movements  of  the 
American  army  at  this  time.  Colonel  Joseph  Reed,  General 
Washington's  adjutant-general,  notes  the  following  as  the 
reasons  assigned  by  some  of  the  general  officers  as  to  why 
they  should  and  why  they  should  not  recross  the  Delaware 
River  with  the  fruits  of  their  successful  expedition. 

"  I.  That  the  Enemy  was  in  force  both  above  &  below, 
viz.  at  Princeton  &  Bordentown  —  for  at  that  Time  it  was 
not  known,  that  a  great  Part  of  the  Enemy's  Force  was 
gone  down  to  Mount  Hollow  25  Miles  below  Trenton. 

"  2.  There  were  great  Quantities  of  Spirituous  Liquours 
at  Trenton  of  which  the  Soldiers  drank  too  freely  to  admit 
of  Discipline  or  Defence  in  Case  of  Attack. 

"  3.  The  Stroke  being  brilliant  &  successful  it  was  not 
prudent  or  politick  even  to  risque  the  Chance  of  losing  the 
Advantages  to  be  derived  from  it. 


"  On  the  Other  Hand  it  was  argued  that  Successes  &  bril- 
liant strokes  ought  to  be  pursued  —  that  History  shewed 
how  much  depended  upon  improving  such  Advantages  —  & 
that  a  Pannick  being  once  given  no  one  could  ascertain  the 
beneficial  Consequences  which  might  be  derived  from  it  if  it 
was  push'd  to  all  its  Consequences.  However  the  former 
Opinion  prevailed." 

Accordingly  after  paroling  all  the  wounded  Hessians, 
whom  they  were  obliged  to  leave  in  the  village,  and  having 
rested  and  refreshed  themselves,  the  victorious  army  took 
up  their  line  of  march  soon  after  midday  and  journeyed  for 
nine  miles  back  over  the  old  River  road  to  the  place  where 
their  boats  still  remained  under  guard.  A  few  of  the  offi- 
cers and  men  were  carried  over  the  Trenton  Ferry,  Beatty's 
Ferry  and  Johnson's  Ferry,  but  most  of  the  army  returned 
to  Pennsylvania  by  McKonkey's  Ferry. 

General  Lord  Stirling  was  ordered  with  his  brigade  to 
guard  the  prisoners  and  secure  their  safety.  The  disagree- 
able weather  of  the  previous  night  still  continued  ;  but  few 
complaints  were  heard  from  the  victors,  who  had  borne  the 
beating  storm  of  hail  and  rain  for  fully  twenty-four  hours. 
Far  worse  were  the  feelings  of  the  sad  and  dismayed  Hes- 
sians as  they  commenced  their  weary  march  from  the  plea- 
sant village  and  its  holiday  revels,  going  as  captives  on  their 
cheerless  journey  along  the  slippery  roadway. 

When  the  column  arrived  at  the  ferry  landing,  the  pris- 
oners were  taken  over  first,  with  only  a  sufficient  guard,  and 
on  the  Pennsylvania  shore  they  awaited  the  arrival  of  the 
American  army.  The  crossing  was  difficult  and  danger- 
ous. It  is  noted  that  one  boat  filled  with  German  officers 
came  near  being  swamped  by  the  icy  current,  and  after 
,  drifting  down  the  stream  for  nearly  two  miles,  the  offi- 
cers at  last  jumped  into  the  river  and  waded  about  two 
hundred  feet  through  the  angry  waters,  and  so  reached  the 

Tradition  says  that  three  soldiers  were  frozen  during  this 
passage  over  the  river,  a  fact  not  surprising  when  we  remem- 


ber  the  scanty  condition  of  their  clothing.  Captain  Morris's 
troop  of  Philadelphia  light  horse  remained  on  the  New  Jersey 
side,  patrolling  the  roads  until  after  dark,  when  they  crossed 
the  river,  and  at  daylight  on  the  next  morning  reported  at 
headquarters.  The  whole  detachment  of  infantry  and  artil- 
lery, many  of  them  having  marched  fully  thirty  miles,  had 
now  returned  to  their  former  camps,  barracks  and  quarters. 
It  is  said  that  the  next  day  more  than  looo  men  were 
reported  unfit  for  duty. 

Captain  William  Hull,  at  the  time  of  the  battle  acting  as 
a  field  officer  of  Colonel  Webb's  Seventh  Connecticut  Conti- 
nental regiment,  says  in  his  account  of  his  revolutionary  ser- 
vices that  on  returning  to  his  quarters  he  had  a  large  dish 
of  hasty  pudding  prepared  for  him,  and  that  while  eating  it 
he  fell  from  the  chair  with  weariness,  and  awoke  in  the  morn- 
ing with  the  spoon  still  in  his  hand. 

The  headquarters  of  the  army  was  now  established  in 
John  Harris's  old  yellow  house,  west  of  Neshaminy  Creek, 
near  Newtown.  This  village  was  five  miles  west  of  the 
Delaware  River  and  five  miles  southwest  of  McKonkey's 
Ferry,  now  Taylorsville.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Robert  H. 
Harrison,  General  Washington's  military  secretary,  had 
remained  at  Newtown  in  charge  of  the  records  and  papers 
of  the  commander-in-chief.  "  The  old  secretary,"  as  he  was 
called,  was  greatly  trusted  by  his  chief,  and  it  is  said  of  him 
that  he  was  "  one  in  whom  every  man  had  confidence  and  by 
whom  no  man  was  deceived." 

On  the  night  of  December  26  the  Hessian  officers  were 
confined  in  the  ferry  house  at  the  landing  at  Johnson's 
Ferry,  but  the  enlisted  men  were  immediately  marched  to 
Newtown.  The  officers  said  they  spent  the  night  "very 
miserably  without  anything  to  eat  or  drink,"  and  the  next 
day  they  were  taken  to  the  Brick  Tavern  at  Newtown. 
They  found  then  that  their  men  had  been  confined  in  the 
Presbyterian  Church  and  the  Bucks  County  jail  in  that  vil- 

On  December  28  General  Lord  Stirling  took  Lieutenant- 



Colonels  Scheffer  and  Brethauer,  Majors  Matthaus  and  \on 
Hanstein,  Lieutenant  Wiederhold  and  a  few  other  officers, 
to  call  on  General  Washington.  The  commander-in-chief 
received  them  kindly  and  desired  the  foui-  field  officers  to 



,LM  L 



dine  with  him,  which  they  did.  The  rest  of  the  part)'  dined 
at  General  Lord  Stirling's  quarters.  It  appears  that  Lord 
Stirling  treated  all  the  captured  officers  with  cordiality,  as  a 
return  for  courtesies  shown  him  by  German  officers,  and 
especially  by  General  von  Heister,  when  he  was  a  prisoner 
of  war  after  the  battle  of  Long  Island. 

While  these  officers  were  in  General  Lord  Stirling's  quar- 
ters a  singular  incident  occurred,  which  is  gra])hically  de- 
scribed  in  Adjutant   Piel's   journal.      It   seems   that   a   tall, 


sour-visaged  man,  whom  they  supposed  to  be  the  German 
Lutheran  pastor  of  the  village,  entered  the  room  where  they 
were,  and,  addressing  the  Hessian  officers  in  their  own  lan- 
guage, urged  upon  them  the  justice  of  the  war  from  the 
American  point  of  view.  He  told  them  that  he  was  a  native 
of  Hanover,  abused  the  Elector  thereof,  and  denounced 
George  HI.  At  last,  disgusted,  as  they  said,  with  his  tittle- 
tattle,  they  told  him  that  they  had  not  been  sent  to  America 
to  find  out  which  party  was  right,  but  to  fight  for  the  king. 
Lord  Stirling  soon  saw  that  this  discourse  was  not  pleasant 
to  the  captured  officers,  and  he  abruptly  interfered  and 
stopped  the  controversy. 

Lieutenant  Andreas  Wiederhold  of  the  von  Knyphausen 
regiment  gives  us  a  rather  amusing  account  of  his  interview 
with  General  Washington.  The  presumption  of  this  subal- 
tern officer  is  decidedly  refreshing.  He  speaks  of  the 
American  chief  as  a  fine,  polite  man,  very  reserved,  with 
limited  conversational  powers,  of  medium  size,  good  figure 
and  cunning  features.  He  also  said  that  General  Washing- 
ton somewhat  resembled  one  of  their  own  officers.  Captain 
Bernhard  von  Biesenrodt  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment, 
then  a  prisoner  of  war.  It  appears  from  the  young  lieu- 
tenant's statement  that  General  Washington  praised  his 
conduct  at  the  alarm-house,  saying  that  he  was  glad  to  meet 
such  a  brave  officer,  and  took  note  of  his  name  and  rank, 
listening  to  his  criticisms  of  wherein  the  Hessian  officers 
had  acted  wisely  and  wherein  they  had  not,  and  commenting 
favorably  upon  Wiederhold's  plan  as  to  the  way  he  would 
have  fought  the  battle.  It  seems  highly  improbable  that 
this  conversation,  of  so  personal  a  character,  should  have 
taken  place  in  the  presence  of  such  experienced  officers  as 
Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer  and  Lieutenant-Colonel  Bret- 
hauer.  During  this  interview  Lieutenant  Wiederhold  asked 
General  Washington's  permission  to  return  to  Trenton  and 
procure  some  of  his  uniform  and  underclothing.  This  was 
granted,  and  he  gave  his  parole  of  honor  to  return,  went  to 
Trenton  on  the  afternoon  of  December  29,  and  returned  the 


next  day  to  Newtown.  He  was  successful  in  regaining  his 
trunk,  which  was  in  Major  von  Dechow's  quarters,  the  house 
in  which  the  major  had  died.  Wiederhold  says  that  the 
good  lady  of  the  house  had  carefully  taken  care  of  his  cloth- 

As  though  he  were  a  veteran  of  European  wars,  he  sums 
up  his  opinion  with  the  sage  reflection  that  "experience 
has  sufficiently  demonstrated  that  where  a  surprise  has  really 
taken  place  the  commander  must  first  recover  his  own  equa- 
nimity before  he  can  get  his  men  out  of  a  panic,  and  that 
after  this  is  done  and  the  soldiers  have  seen  that  the  danger 
is  not  as  great  as  it  seemed  at  first,  they  can  soon  be  used 
as  effectively  as  ever."  He  concludes  with  the  statement 
that  "  Colonel  Rail's  action  at  the  time  was  more  foolhardy 
than  brave,  and  that  in  such  a  case  confusion  ends  in  weak- 
ness in  the  moment  of  surprise.  For  this  reason  the  three 
battalions  were  captured,  and  the  soldierly  reputation  of 
many  good  names  was  dishonored." 

The  Hessian  prisoners  at  Newtown  signed  a  parole  of 
honor,  which  was  in  the  following  words  :  — 

1  The  criticisms  of  this  young  soldier  on  the  battle  of  Trenton,  and 
probably  the  very  points  which,  if  we  are  to  believe  his  statement,  he 
presumed  to  discuss  with  General  Washington,  were :  — 

'•  I.  That  Colonel  Rail  cannot  be  excused  for  allowing  the  enemy  to 
cross  the  river  so  near  to  his  post,  in  such  force,  with  a  river  so  nearly 
frozen  that  it  took  sixteen  hours  to  effect  a  passage  and  then  to  be 
attacked  in  garrison  and  this  without  his  certain  knowledge,  although 
he  had  been  warned  several  times. 

"2.  That  Colonel  Rail  is  further  inexcusable  in  that  the  attack  of 
the  night  before  on  the  picket-guard  was  notice  enough,  that  he  did  not 
then  send  out  strong  patrols  to  all  the  ferries  and  into  all  the  woods  to 
search  for  the  enemy,  and  that  he  failed  to  have  the  supplies  and  bag- 
gage of  the  army  in  condition  to  relieve  himself  quickly  of  these  impedi- 
ments if  necessary. 

"3.  That  he  did  not  have  his  men  all  called  in  and  stationed  above 
the  bridge  over  the  creek  in  good  position  to  await  the  movement  of 
the  enemy. 

"4.  That  even  though  he  had  neglected  all  these  precautions  he  did 
not  concentrate  his  entire  force  when  the  surprise  was  really  made  and 
push  across  the  bridge  while  such  a  movement  was  yet  possible." 

212      THE    1;ATTU-:.S    of    TREXTON    and    PRINCETON 

"We,  tlie  SubscrilitTS,  Hessian  Officers,  made  Prisoners 
of  War  b)'  the  American  Arm}'  under  command  of  his  Excel- 
lency, deneral  Washington,  at  Trenton,  on  the  26th  inst., 
Ix-ing  allowetl  (  )ur  Libert)',  under  such  Restrictions  as  to 
place  as  nia\'  be  from  time  to  time  a]ipointed,  do  give  Our 
I'ai'ole  of  IIoiKiur,  that  we  will  remain  at  tlie  jjlace  and 
within  the  limits  appninted  for  us  b)'  his  Excellency,  the 
General,  the  Honourable  Congress,  Council  of  Safety,  or 
Conmiissai'v  of  Prisoners  of  War,  IV-aceably  beha\'ing  oiu'- 
sel\"es  and  b\'  no  \va)'  Send  or  gi\'e  Intelligence  to  the  ]3ritish 
or  Hessian  i\rni)- or  speak  oi-  do  anything  disrespectful  or 
Injui-iiius  to  the  American  States  while  we  remain  J'risonei's 
of  War,  We  will  also  restrain  nur  Ser\"ants  and  Attendants 
who  are  allowed  to  remain  with  us,  as  far  as  in  oiu'  power, 
to  the  same  contlitions.      Newtown,  December  30th  1776." 

_-^"  ni^n 

0/"'     '    )Jt-  lUJi    '^'■ 

■fj]    "jj-  ^..  5^^.    '  '^i  :£ 

■a,u , 




-/  </■  7;;,A 


sk;xatii^i;s  mj-    hkssian  oi-fi'  i{ks  mx  the   parole 

General  Washington  very  kindly  allowed  the  prisoners  to 
retain  all  of  their  jiersonal  baggage  without  examination. 
This  undoubtedly  produced  a  good  effect. 

Immediately  after  the  parole  was  given  by  the  Hessian 

"lO    TRIUMPHE"  213 

officers,  they  started  for  Philadelphia  in  five  canvas-covered 
wagons  driven  by  Pennsylvania  farmers,  and  reached  that 
city  soon  after  eleven  o'clock  in  the  morning.  They  were 
all  taken  to  the  inn  known  as  the  "  Indian  Queen,"  and  in 
the  evening  were  furnished  with  "  a  grand  supper,  with 
plenty  of  wine  and  punch  at  the  expense  of  Congress."  The 
enlisted  men  also  marched  from  Newtown  at  an  early  hour 
on  December  30,  under  a  heavy  guard  commanded  by 
Colonel  George  Weedon  of  the  Third  Virginia  Continental 
regiment.  He  had  with  him  as  guard  his  own  regiment,  a 
detachment  of  the  First  Pennsylvania  rifle  battalion  com- 
manded by  Captain  Lewis  Farmer,  and  another  detachment 
commanded  by  Captain  John  Murray.  The  men  spent  the 
night  of  December  30  at  the  village  of  Four  Lands  End, 
now  called  Attleborough.  The  next  morning  they  passed 
through  Frankfort  and  Kensington,  and  reached  Philadelphia 
just  before  evening. 

The  prisoners,  followed  by  the  captured  arms  and  banners, 
were  all  paraded  through  the  streets  of  Philadelphia,  where 
the  whole  populace  was  out  to  see  them.  This  exhibition  of 
triumph  was  no  doubt  for  the  purpose  of  encouraging  the 
people  and  showing  them  that  the  dreaded  Hessian  could 
be  captured  by  the  undisciplined  force  of  America. 

In  Watson's  "Annals  of  Philadelphia,"  an  "elderly  gentle- 
man "  gives  an  account  of  this  display  :  — 

"  I  well  remember  seeing  the  Hessian  prisoners  which  had 
been  taken  at  Trenton.  I  stood  on  the  porch  of  Pember- 
ton's  house  in  Chestnut  above  Third  street.  They  marched 
up  the  street  past  the  State  House,  where  Congress  sat. 
They  made  a  long  line  —  all  fine,  hearty  looking  men  and 
well  clad,  with  large  knapsacks,  spatterdashes  on  legs,  their 
looks  were  satisfied.  On  each  side,  in  a  single  file,  were 
their  guards,  mostly  in  light  summer  dress,  and  some  with- 
out shoes,  but  stepping  light  and  cheerful." 

In  his  diary  one  of  the  Hessian  soldiers  also  describes  the 
scene :  — 

"  Large  and  small,  old  and  young  stood  there  seeing  what 


kind  of  people  we  were.  When  we  came  before  them  they 
gazed  very  closely  at  us.  The  old  women  screamed  fearfully 
and  wanted,  to  choke  us  because  we  had  come  to  America 
to  deprive  them  of  their  liberty.  Some  however,  notwith- 
standing the  spite,  brought  us  liquor  and  bread,  but  were 
not  allowed  to  let  us  have  them  by  these  old  women.  The 
American  troops  who  guarded  us  had  orders  from  Washing- 
ton to  march  us  all  over  the  city,  so  that  all  should  see  us, 
but  the  people  pressed  on  us  so  greatly  as  nearly  to  break 
the  guard  over  us." 

The  effect  of  this  triumphal  display  upon  the  citizens  of 
Philadelphia  was  wonderful.  Despondency  was  turned  to 
joy;  and  the  rejoicing  of  the  patriots  knew  no  bounds. 

The  prisoners  were  confined  in  the  city  barracks,  which 
had  been  prepared  for  them  in  compliance  with  a  character- 
istic order  of  General  Putnam  :  "  You  are  immedatly  to 
remove  your  men  out  of  the  Barrok  to  make  room  for  the 
hashon  Prisoners." 

On  New  Year's  day  the  German  officers  were  taken  in  a 
body  to  call  on  General  Putnam,  who  received  them  hospit- 
ably. On  the  6th  day  of  January  they  left  Philadelphia  for 
Baltimore,  where  Congress  was  then  in  session.  All  the 
captured  commissioned  officers  of  Rail's  brigade  were  in  this 
party,  and  about  as  many  non-commissioned  officers,  in  all 
about  fifty  soldiers.  Captain  Farmer  being  still  in  command 
of  the  guard.  On  the  evening  of  January  14  he  quartered 
his  prisoners  in  Baltimore,  and  the  next  morning  turned 
them  over  to  the  custody  of  the  Board  of  War.  Congress 
ordered  the  officers  to  be  taken  to  Dumfries  in  Prince  William 
County,  Virginia,  some  twenty-five  miles  below  Alexandria, 
and  four  miles  from  the  mouth  of  the  Quantico  River,  on 
the  lower  Potomac  River.  They  left  Baltimore  January  18, 
under  charge  of  Lieutenant  John  Lindenburger  of  the 
Pennsylvania  state  regiment  of  artillery,  and  on  January  24 
reached  Dumfries,  a  wooden  vUlage  of  about  forty  houses. 
There  they  remained  until  September  4,  1777,  when  they 
were   sent  to  Winchester,   Virginia,  and  during  the  same 


month  300  of  the  enhsted  men  of  the  Hessian  contingent 
arrived  in  the  same  village  to  be  quartered  there.  The  offi- 
cers were  sent  on  December  13  to  Fredericksburg,  Virginia, 
and  there,  from  their  own  account,  they  had  a  singularly 
pleasant  time  for  prisoners  of  war.  In  the  spring  of  1778 
those  who  had  been  formally  exchanged  were  sent  to  Phila- 
delphia, then  in  the  hands  of  the  British,  arriving  there  on 
April  20.  Two  officers,  however,  were  not  in  the  cartel  of 
exchange.  These  were  Ensign  Carl  Wilhelm  Kleinschmidt 
of  the  Rail  regiment  and  Ensign  Carl  Friedrich  Fuhrer  of 
the  von  Knyphausen  regiment.  Both  of  these  officers  joined 
the  American  army,  and  the  portrait  of  each  one  was  fixed 
to  a  gallows  as  a  deserter  by  the  British  troops  in  New  York 
city,  October  i,  1781.^  Ensign  Kleinschmidt  was  the  same 
officer  who  killed  his  comrade,  Captain  von  der  Sippe,  in  a 
duel  on  board  the  vessel  which  brought  them  to  America. 

The  enlisted  men  were  marched  from  Philadelphia,  January 
2,  1777,  toward  Lancaster,  and  were  afterward  scattered  in 
different  places  in  the  western  counties  of  Pennsylvania  and 
in  some  parts  of  Virginia.  The  band  of  nine  musicians  which 
had  so  charmed  the  dead  Colonel  Rail  were  kept  in  Philadel- 
phia, and  it  is  said  that  they  took  part  in  the  fourth  of  July 
celebration  in  that  city  in  the  year  1777. 

From  a  sergeant's  return  of  the  prisoners  at  Lancaster, 
printed  in  the  "Pennsylvania  Archives,"  second  series,  vol.  i. 
p.  435,  we  find  39  men  of  the  artillery,  266  men  of  the  Rail 
regiment,  234  men  of  the  von  Lossberg  regiment,  291  men 
of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment ;  in  all  830  men,  and  a  few 
women  and  children. 

In  March,  1777,  a  selection  was  made  from  these  prisoners 
of  thirty  men,  who  were  sent  to  Mount  Hope,  Morris  County, 
New  Jersey,  and  placed  in  the  service  of  John  Jacob  Faesch, 
who  owned  the  great  forge  and  foundry  at  that  place.  Mr. 
Faesch  was  himself  a  native  of  Hesse-Cassel,  and  had  come 
to  America  in  the  employ  of  the  London  Company  in  1766. 

1  See  von  Krafft's  "Journal,"  New  Yo^k  Historical  Society  Collec- 
tions, 1882,  p.  59. 


In  1776  he  was  engaged  in  making  cannon  and  shot  for  the 
American  army  under  contract  with  Congress.  The  govern- 
ment furnished  him  with  arms  to  guard  his  countrymen,  then 
prisoners  of  war,  and  he  made  them  useful  in  casting  cannon- 
balls  for  the  patriots. 

Some  of  these  Hessian  prisoners  never  again  took  up 
arms  against  the  infant  republic.  Not  a  few  escaped  from 
their  captors  and  settled  on  the  farm  lands  of  Pennsylvania 
and  Virginia.  These  had  to  be  paid  for  as  "  missing  "  by 
the  English  government.  Many  of  them,  pleased  with  the 
new  country,  returned  to  Pennsylvania  when  the  war  was 
over,  and  joined  the  many  large  and  flourishing  settlements 
of  Germans  in  that  commonwealth. 


On  the  day  after  the  battle  of  Trenton  General  Washing- 
ton wrote  his  official  report  of  the  surprise  at  Trenton,  and 
sent  it  to  the  Continental  Congress  at  Baltimore :  — 

Head  Quarters,  Newtown 
27  December  1776 

I  have  the  pleasure  of  congratulating  you  upon  the  success 
of  an  enterprise  which  I  had  formed  against  a  detachment  of 
the  enemy  lying  in  Trenton,  and  which  was  executed  yester- 
day morning.  The  evening  of  the  25th  I  ordered  the  troops 
intended  for  this  service  to  parade  back  of  McKonkey's  Ferry, 
that  they  might  begin  to  pass  as  soon  as  it  grew  dark,  im- 
agining we  should  be  able  to  throw  them  all  over,  with  the 
necessary  artillery,  by  twelve  o'clock,  and  that  we  might 
easily  arrive  at  Trenton  by  five  in  the  morning,  the  distance 
being  about  nine  miles.  But  the  quantity  of  ice,  made  that 
night,  impeded  the  passage  of  the  boats  so  much,  that  it  was 
three  o'clock  before  the  artillery  could  all  be  got  over  ;  and 
near  four  before  the  troops  took  up  their  line  of  march. 
This  made  me  despair  of  surprising  the  town,  as  I  well  knew 
we  could  not  reach  it  before  the  day  was  fairly  broke.  But 
as  I  was  certain  there  was  no  making  a  retreat  without  being 
discovered  and  harassed  on_repj^ssing_the  river,  I  determined 
to  push  on  at  all  events.  |  I  formed  my  detachment  into  two 
"Tlndsions,  one  to  march  by  the  lower  or  river  road  the  other 
by  the  upper  or  Pennington  road.  As  the  divisions  had 
nearly  the  same  distance  to  march,  L  ordered  each  of  them, 
immediately  upon  forcing  the  out-guards  to  push  directly 
into  the  town,  that  they  might  charge  the  enemy  before  they 
had-limeio  form. 

The  upper  division  arrived  at  the  enemy's  advanced  post 


exactly  at  eight  o'clock ;  and  in  three  minutes  after,  I  found, 
from  the  fire  on  the  lower  road,  that  the  division  had  also 
got  up.  The  out-guards  made  but  small  opposition,  though, 
for  their  numbers,  they  behaved  very  well,  keeping  up  a  con- 
stant retreating  fire  from  behind  houses.  We  presently  saw 
their  main  body  formed  ;  but,  from  their  motions,  they  seemed 
undetermined  how  to  act.  Being  hard  pressed  by  our  troops, 
who  had  already  got  possession  of  their  artillery,  they  at- 
tempted to  file  off  by  a  road  on  their  right,  leading  to  Prince- 
ton. But,  perceiving  their  intention,  I  threw  a  body  of  troops 
in  their  way,  which  immediately  checked  them.  Finding 
from  our  disposition,  that  they  were  surrounded  and  that 
they  must  inevitably  be  cut  to  pieces  if  they  made  any  fur- 
ther resistance,  they  agreed  to  lay  down  their  arms.  The 
number  that  submitted  in  this  manner  was  twenty-three  offi- 
cers and  eight  hundred  and  eighty-six  men.  Colonel  Rahl, 
the  commanding  officer,  and  seven  others,  were  found 
wounded  in  the  town.  I  do  not  exactly  know  how  many 
were  killed ;  but  I  fancy  not  above  twenty „ox  tjiirty,  asjhey 
never  made  any  regular  stand.  Our  loss  is  very  trifling 
indeed,  —  only  two  officers  and  one  or  two  privates  wounded. 
I  find  that  the  detachment  of  the  enemy  consisted  of  the 
three  Hessian  regiments  of  Anspach,  Kniphausen  and  Rahl, 
amounting  to  about  fifteen  hundred  men,  and  a  troop  of 
British  light-horse  ;  but,  immediately  upon  the  beginning  of 
the  attack,  all  those,  who  were  not  killed  or  taken,  pushed 
directly  down  the  road  towards  Bordentown.  These  would 
likewise  have  fallen  into  our  hands,  could  my  plan  have  been 
completely  carried  into  execution.  General  Ewing  was  to 
have  crossed  before  day  at  Trenton  Ferry,  and  taken  pos- 
session of  the  bridge  leading  out  of  town  ;  but  the  quantity 
of  ice  was  so  great,  that,  though  he  did  every  thing  in  his 
power  to  effect  it,  he  could  not  get  over.  This  difficulty 
also  hindered  General  Cadwalader  from  crossing  with  the 
Pennsylvania  militia  from  Bristol.  He  got  part  of  his  foot 
over ;  but,  finding  it  impossible  to  embark  his  artillery,  he 
was  obliged  to  desist.     I  am  fully  confident,  that,  could  the 


troops  under  Generals  Ewing  and  Cadwalader  have  passed 
the  river,  I  should  have  been  able  with  their  assistance  to 
drive  the  enemy  from  all  their  posts  below  Trenton.  But 
the  numbers  I  had  with  me  being  inferior  to  theirs  below 
me  and  a  strong  battalion  of  light  infantry  being  at  Princeton 
above  me,  I  thought  it  most  prudent  to  return  the  same 
evening  with  the  prisoners  and  the  artillery  we  had  taken. 
We  found  no  stores  of  any  consequence  in  the  town. 

In  justice  to  the  officers  and  men,  I  must  add,  that  their 
•  behaviour  upon  this  occasion  reflects  the  highest  honor  upon 
them.  The  difficulty  of  passing  the  river  in  a  very  severe 
night,  and  their  march  through  a  violent  storm  of  snow  and 
hail,  did  not  in  the  least  abate  their  ardor ;  but,  when  they 
came  to  the  charge, 'each  seemed  to  vie  with  the  other  in 
pressing  forward  and  were  I 'to  give  a  preference  to  any 
particular^corps,  I  should  do  great  injustice  to^the  others. 

Colonel  Baylor,  my  first  aide-de-camp,  will  have  the  honor 
of  delivering  this  to  you ;  and  from  him  you  may  be  made 
acquainted  with  many  other  particulars.  His  spirited  be- 
haviour upon  every  occasion  requires  me  to  recommend  him 
to  your  particular  notice. 

I  have  the  honor  to  be,  &c. 

Go.  Washington. 

Brigadier-General  Lord  Stirling  also  wrote  to  his  brother- 
in-law.  Governor  William  Livingston  of  New  Jersey.^ 

General  Howe  informed  Lord  George  Germain  of  the  dis- 
aster at  Trenton  in  a  letter  dated  New  York,  December  29, 
1776,  and  from  which  the  following  extract  is  taken  :  — 

My  Lord  : 

On  the  25th  instant,  in  the  evening,  a  party  of  the  enemy 
attacked  an  out-guard  from  the  post  of  Trenton,  where  Colo- 
nel Rail  commanded  with  three  battalions  of  Hessians,  fifty 
chasseurs  and  twenty  light  dragoons,  having  with  them  six 
field-pieces,  which  party  was  beaten  back. 
1  Part  ii.  No.  60. 


On  the  succeeding  morning  at  six  o'clock  the  rebels  ap- 
peared in  force  with  cannon,  evidently  intending  to  attack 
the  post.  Colonel  Rail,  having  received  intelligence  of  their 
design,  had  the  troops  under  arms  and  detached  his  own 
regiment  to  support  an  advanced  picket ;  this  picket  being 
forced,  and  falling  back  upon  the  regiment,  threw  it  into 
some  disorder,  which  occasioned  them  to  retire  upon  the 
other  battalions  no  advantage  being  taken  of  this,  they  re- 
covered themselves  and  the  whole  formed  in  front  of  the 
village.  The  rebels,  without  advancing,  cannonaded  them 
in  this  situation  and  Colonel  Rail  moved  forward  to  attack 
them,  with  the  regiments  of  Lossberg  and  Rail ;  in  which 
attack  Colonel  Rail  was  wounded  and  the  regiments  were 
made  prisoners.  The  rebels  then  advanced  to  the  regiment 
of  Knyphausen  and  also  made  that  corps  prisoners.  Some 
few  officers  and  about  two  hundred  men  of  the  brigade, 
retreated  to  Colonel  Donop's  corps  at  Bordentown,  six  miles 
distant.  Several  officers  were  wounded  and  about  forty  men 
killed  and  wounded.  This  misfortune  seems  to  have  pro- 
ceeded from  Colonel  Rail's  quitting  his  post  and  advancing 
to  the  attack,  instead  of  defending  the  village.  The  rebels 
recrossed  the  river  Delaware  immediately,  with  the  prison- 
ers and  cannon  they  had  taken 

I  have  the  honor  to  be,  &c. 

W.  Howe. 

It  will  be  noticed  that  General  Howe,  either  because  of 
his  lack  of  reliable  information  or  from  his  desire  to  divert 
the  attention  of  his  king  from  the  primary  cause  of  the  dis- 
aster, his  own  foolish  chain  of  cantonments,  misrepresents 
Colonel  Rail  as  quitting  his  post,  forming  in  front  of  the 
village,  and  advancing  to  the  attack.  The  truth  of  the 
matter  is  that  Colonel  Rail  left  his  bed  to  join  his  men  in 
the  town,  and  rallied  them  at  his  headquarters  to  resist  the 
terrible  onset  of  the  American  column. 

On  the  last  day  of  the  year  the  Council  of  Safety  of  Penn- 
sylvania issued  in  Philadelphia  an  address  to  the  people  of 

JOY    OF   CONGRESS  221 

that  State,!  announcing  the  arrival  of  the  Hessian  prisoners, 
and  commending  them  to  the  friendly  care  of  the  people. 

In  reference  to  the  affair  at  Trenton  and  the  part  which 
the  Hessians  took  therein,  a  jeii  d'esprit"^  appears  in  the 
"  Correspondance  secrete  et  inedite,"  and  is  no  doubt  cor- 
rectly attributed  to  Dr.  Benjamin  Franklin.  The  text  given 
is  from  Bigelow's  life  of  Franklin.  It  is  in  the  form  of  a 
letter  from  the  Count  de  Schaumburg  to  the  Baron  Hohen- 
dorf,  commanding  the  Hessian  troops  in  America,  and  is 
dated  at  Rome,  Italy,  February  18,  1777.  It  is  a  neat  satire 
on  the  traffic  of  these  petty  princes  in  the  blood  of  their 

Early  on  the  morning  of  Friday,  December  27,  Washington 
dispatched  Lieutenant-Colonel  George  Baylor  of  his  staff  to 
the  President  of  the  Continental  Congress  at  Baltimore, 
with  his  letter  of  that  date,  already  given,  and  the  Hessian 
captured  flags.  The  news  was  received  by  Congress  with 
joy,  and  by  a  vote  on  the  morning  of  the  New  Year  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Baylor  was  presented  with  a  horse,  properly 
caparisoned,  in  token  of  their  appreciation  of  his  service  and 
of  the  cheering  report  which  he  had  brought. 

General  Washington  also  sent  Colonel  John  Chester  of 
Colonel  Sargent's  brigade,  on  December  27,  to  take  the 
good  news  to  General  Heath,  with  instructions  for  him  to 
forward  the  same  to  the  New  England  governors.  Colonel 
Chester  reported  to  General  Heath  at  Peekskill,  December 
30,  and  the  news  which  he  brought  gave  great  encourage- 
ment to  the  Northern  army. 

This  glorious  victory,  following  close  upon  so  many  dis- 
heartening defeats,  had  a  wonderful  effect  upon  the  Ameri- 
can people.  Washington's  manoeuvre,  executed  in  so  spirited 
a  manner  and  in  such  a  desperate  condition  of  affairs,  com- 
manded the  admiration  of   all  the  people,   reflected  great 

1  Part  ii.  No.  61.  ^  Part  ii.  No.  62. 

3  See  note  on  the  battle  of  Trenton  in  Rosengarten's  translation  of 
Von  Eelking's  work  on  the  German  Allied  Troops  in  the  North  Amer- 
ican War  of  Independence,  p.  274. 


credit  on  the  undrilled  soldiery,  brought  recruits  to  the  army, 
gave  new  vigor  to  an  almost  hopeless  cause,  and  strength- 
ened the  patriotism  of  Congress  and  the  nation.  It  encour- 
aged the  delegates  in  Congress  to  resolve  that  the  cause 
must  be  maintained  at  all  hazards,  no  matter  what  the  sacri- 
fice. From  that  hour  it  seemed  as  though  the  people  them- 
selves determined  to  be  as  free  as  their  representatives  had 
before  declared  that  they  were  "and  of  right  ought  to  be." 
The  British  generals  were  no  longer  considered  models  of 
military  science,  the  Hessian  hirelings,  with  their  unknown 
tongue,  rough  manners  and  pillaging  propensities,  could  now 
be  conquered,  and  were  no  longer  so  thoroughly  dreaded. 
The  prestige  which  they  had  heretofore  enjoyed  was  gone, 
and  this  to  them  was  far  worse  than  the  actual  loss  of 

The  astonishment  of  General  Howe  and  Lord  Cornwallis 
at  this  display  of  activity  cannot  be  described.  They  had 
felt  confident  that  the  war  was  about  at  an  end,  and  they 
could  with  difficulty  understand  how  a  forlorn,  ill-clad,  poorly 
fed  party  of  men,  —  a  force,  too,  on  the  very  eve  of  dissolu- 
tion on  account  of  the  expiration  of  term  of  service,  —  a  mob 
which  for  weeks  had  been  running  away  from  their  invincible 
army,  could  so  soon  turn,  and,  with  a  valor  unprecedented, 
accomplish  such  an  enterprise  upon  the  very  flower  of  their 
army.  This  stroke  was  so  unexpected,  so  unaccountable, 
that  they  were  badly  disconcerted,  and  could  only  look  about, 
as  is  usual,  for  some  one  else  on  whom  to  throw  the  blame. 
Poor  Rail,  powerless  now  to  speak  in  his  own  defense,  fell 
under  the  ban  of  their  displeasure.  They  blamed  him  be- 
cause he  had  not  fortified  his  position.  General  Howe  said : 
"  If  he  had  obeyed  the  orders  I  sent  to  him  for  the  erecting 
of  redoubts,  I  am  confident  his  post  would  not  have  been 

The  British  soldiers,  mortified  at  this  terrible  defeat,  said 
the  Hessians  had  acted  like  cowards ;  but  they  forgot  their 
splendid  fighting  on  the  banks  of  the  Hudson  a  few  weeks 
previous,  and  they  overlooked  the  fact  that  the  British  dra- 


goons  stationed  in  Trenton  ran  away  at  the  beginning  of 
the  fight. 

Governor  William  Tryon  of  New  York  wrote  to  Lord 
George  Germain,  December  31,  1776:  "The  Rebels  carry- 
ing off  the  Hessian  Brigade  under  Colonel  Rail  at  Trenton 
has  given  me  more  real  chagrin  than  any  other  circumstance 
of  this  war !  the  moment  was  critical  and  I  believe  the  Rebel 
Chiefs  were  conscious  that  if  some  stroke  was  not  struck 
that  would  give  life  to  their  sinking  cause,  they  should  not 
raise  another  army." 

The  mortification  of  the  rulers  and  the  people  of  Great 
Britain  was  profound.  It  was  with  difficulty  that  they  could 
be  persuaded  that  any  portion  of  the  British  army  could  be 
captured  by  the  undisciplined  yeomanry  of  America.  The 
letter  of  General  Howe  to  Lord  Germain  of  January  20, 
1777,  did  not  relieve  this  deep  despondency,  but  caused  the 
colonial  secretary  to  ask  for  the  embodiment  of  20,000  addi- 
tional new  troops.  1 

The  Tory  Joseph  Galloway,  once  speaker  of  the  House  of 
Assembly  of  Pennsylvania,  when  examined  before  the  British 
House  of  Commons  in  1779,  testified  that  if  General  Sir 
.William  Howe  had  pursued  General  Washington  across  the 
Delaware,  scattered  the  remains  of  his  army,  and  taken  up 
his  quarters  at  Philadelphia,  the  Congress  would  not  have 
been  able  to  raise  another  army  of  any  consequence,  not 
5000  men,  so  as  to  take  the  field  at  the  usual  time  of  opening 
the  campaign,  and  that  the  success  of  the  rebels  in  defeating 
and  making  prisoners  of  the  Hessians  at  Trenton  had  a 
mischievous  effect  on  the  British  service,  removed  that  panic 
with  which  the  new  states  of  the  middle  colonies  were  struck, 
revived  their  spirits  and  the  spirits  of  the  disaffected  and 
induced  a  number  of  the  militia  to  turn  out  who  otherwise 
would  not  have  done  so,  and  contributed  in  a  great  measure 
to  the  raising  of  the  army  which  General  Washington  com- 
manded in  the  next  campaign. 

In  alluding  to  this  subject  General  Cornwallis  remarked : 
1  Partii.  No.  118. 


"  The  misfortune  at  Trenton  was  owing  entirely  to  the  impru- 
dence and  negligence  of  the  commanding  officer.  On  all 
other  occasions  the  troops  ever  have  behaved  and  I  dare  say 
ever  will  behave  with  the  greatest  courage  and  intrepidity. 
The  behavior  on  the  attack  on  Fort  Washington  of  this 
very  brigade  of  Colonel  Rhall's  was  the  admiration  of  the 
whole  army." 

It  was  useless,  however,  for  Lord  Cornwallis  to  censure 
his  dead  subordinate  when  the  folly  was  in  the  first  place 
clearly  his  own.  His  succession  of  cantonments  along  the 
shore  of  the  Delaware  River  was  little  less  than  a  blunder 
as  a  military  movement,  for  it  allowed  the  very  opportunity, 
invited  the  very  demonstration  of  which  General  Washington 
so  promptly  took  advantage. 

Lord  Germain's  remark  has  passed  into  history  :  "  All  our 
hopes  were  blasted  by  that  unhappy  affair  at  Trenton."  ^ 

Sir  Henry  Clinton  comments  on  the  condition  of  affairs  in 
New  Jersey  in  this  language  :  — 

"There  were  who  thought  (and  who  were  not  silent)  that 
a  chain  a  cross  Jersey  might  be  dangerous.  General  Howe 
wrote  to  General  Clinton  thus  a  few  days  before  the  misfor- 
tune !  I  have  been  prevailed  upon  to  run  a  chain  a  cross 
Jersey  !  the  links  are  rather  too  far  asunder  !  General  Grant 
was  principally  to  blame  !  he  should  have  visited  his  posts, 
given  his  orders,  and  seen  they  had  been  obeyed.  I  am 
clear  it  would  have  been  better  if  Sir  W.  Howe  had  not 
taken  a  chain  across  Jersey !  but  General  Grant  is  answer- 
able for  every  thing  else." 

In  reference  to  the  loss  of  the  Hessians  at  Trenton,  Gen- 
eral Cornwallis,  when  he  was  being  examined  at  the  bar  of 
the  House  of  Commons,  May  6,  1779,  "  declared  that  it  had 
been  necessary  for  the  general  to  extend  his  chain  of  canton- 
ments to  that  distance,  that  he  had  himself  indeed  advised 
it,  and  that  the  fatal  accident  that  afterward  happened  was 
not  in  human  prudence  to  foresee,  and  therefore  not  to  be 
guarded  against." 

1  Part  ii.  No.  117. 


We  have  taken  the  following  from  the  narrative  of  General 
Howe  :  "  Where  could  the  Hessian  troops  have  been  better 
employed  than  in  the  defense  of  a  post.  In  the  last  war  the 
Hessian  troops  were  esteemed  not  unequal  to  any  troops  in 
King  Ferdinand's  army,  two  of  these  very  battalions  had 
served  in  Germany  with  great  credit,  and  the  whole  brigade 
under  Colonel  Rail's  command  had  given  a  recent  proof  of 
their  bravery  at  the  attack  of  Fort  Knyphausen."  Search- 
ing for  a  living  man  to  censure,  Howe  selected  Lieutenant- 
General  Leopold  Philipp  von  Heister,  because  he  had  urged 
the  appointment  of  Colonel  Rail  to  the  command  of  that 
Hessian  brigade.  General  von  Heister  was  recalled  by  the 
Landgrave  of  Hesse,  evidently  in  disgrace,  left  America  June 
22,  1777,  and  died  at  Cassel,  November  19,  1777,  at  the  age 
of  sixty-one  years. 

The  records  at  Marburg  tell  us  that  on  the  day  after  the 
surprise.  General  Grant  wrote  from  Brunswick :  "  I  did  not 
think  that  all  the  rebels  in  America  would  have  taken  that 
brigade  prisoners." 

Major  Stephen  Kemble,  General  Howe's  deputy  adjutant- 
general,  uses  this  language  in  his  "  Observations "  on  the 
affair  at  Trenton,  as  found  in  his  journal,  and  published 
in  the  New  York  Historical  Society  Collections,  1883,  p. 
105  :  "Why  Post  so  small  Detachments  as  to  be  in  danger 
of  Insult,'  as  happened  in  Rail's  Affair,  upon  the  Frontiers 
of  your  Line  of  Communication,  or  why  put  Hessians  at  the 
advanced  Posts,  particularly  the  Man  at  Trent  own,  who  was 
Noisy,  but  not  sullen,  unacquainted  with  the  Language  and 
a  Drunkard  .''  "  , 

The  day  after  the  battle  of  Trenton  Colonel  von  Donop 
wrote  to  his  superior  officer,  Lieutenant-General  von  Knyp- 
hausen, giving  him  some  idea  of  his  movements  prior  to 
December  26,  and  such  m-eagre  information  of  the  fight  as 
had  been  received  by  him  up  to  the  hour  of  writing.^ 

General  Grant  also  wrote  to  Colonel  von  Donop,^  and  the 
letters  of  the  two  officers  must  have  crossed  one  another,  as 
1  Part  ii.  No.  63.  ^  Part  ii.  No.  64. 


the  express  riders  took  the  same  road !  They  are  inter- 
changes of  vain  regrets  over  the  disaster  to  the  British  arms. 
In  the  German  archives  we  find  a  letter,  written  in  French 
by  Lord  George  Germain,  colonial  secretary  of  state  of  King 
George  III.,  to  General  von  Heister.  The  following  is  a 
good  translation  of  this  important  document :  — 

White  Hall  3rd  of  March  1777. 
Sir  : 

I  have  the  honour  to  receive  your  letter  of  January  5th, 
the  news  wherein  I  have  given  to  the  King.  His  Majesty 
had  already  heard  of  the  misfortune  which  happened  to  the 
brigade  of  troops  of  his  most  Serene  Highness,  but  was  igno- 
rant of  some  of  the  particulars.  One  of  the  circumstances 
of  this  Affair  your  letter  gives  him  in  detail.  The  King 
regrets  extremely  the  loss  of  the  brave  officers  who  have 
suffered  on  this  occasion  fighting  in  his  service  and  His 
Majesty  has  learned  with  sorrow  that  the  officer  who  com- 
manded this  force  and  to  whom  this  misfortune  is  to  be 
attributed  has  lost  his  life  by  his  rashness.  It  is  to  be  hoped 
that  the  dangerous  practice  of  underestimating  the  enemy 
may  make  a  lasting  impression  on  the  rest  of  the  army.  As 
His  Majesty  has  the  greatest  confidence  in  their  courage 
and  fidelity  he  does  not  doubt  but  that  when  the  occasion 
presents  itself  they  will  try  to  wipe  out  this  disgrace  by 
their  zeal  and  by  their  valor. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be,  with  great 

esteem,  distinguished  Sir,  your 

very  humble  and  very  obedient 
servant  — 

Geo.  Germain. 

There  also  appears  in  the  records  at  Marburg,  Germany, 
an  official  report  of  General  von .  Heister  to  the  Prince  of 
Hesse,  giving  him  the  unwelcome  news  of  the  capture  of 
Rail's  brigade.  The  writing  of  this  report  and  its  receipt 
must  have  caused  sorrow  and  chagrin  to  both  of  these  men.^ 
1  Part  ii.  No.  65. 


A  letter  from  the  Earl  of  Suffolk,  secretary  of  state  for 
foreign  affairs,  to  General  von  Heister,  written  in  French,  is 
also  in  the  archives  of  Germany,  and  is  worth  reading.^ 

Among  the  military  papers  on  file  in  the  state  archives  at 
Marburg  are  the  letters  received  by  the  Hessian  general 
officers  in  America.  The  following  carefully  translated  ex- 
tracts from  letters  of  William,  Count  of  Hesse-Hanau  and 
son  of  Frederick  II.,  Landgrave  of  Hesse-Cassel,  will  be 
found  of  interest  :  — 

To  Lieutenant-General  von  Knyphausen. 

Cassel,  April  7,  1777. 
I  am  accustomed  to  hold  the  honor  of  my  troops  so  high 
that  nothing  worse  could  have  happened  to  me  than  to  re- 
ceive the  information  that  my  three  regiments  had  in  an 
unlucky  moment  lost  their  well-earned  reputation.  Nothing 
but  an  utter  disregard  of  all  drill  and  discipline  could  have 
caused  this  disgrace.  I  find  it  necessary  to  have  a  personal 
interview  with  Lieutenant-General  von  Heister  and  as  the 
climate  of  the  country  does  not  seem  to  agree  with  his  health 
I  therefore  write  him  to  come  here  for  a  time  and  to  trans- 
fer the  command  of  my  troops  in  America  to  the  lieutenant- 
general  commanding ;  and  I  sincerely  hope  that  he,  feeling 
as  I  do  the  grievous  shock  at  such  disgraceful  conduct,  will 
see  the  indispensable  necessity  of  expunging  it  and  that  he 
will  not  rest  until  my  troops  by  a  great  series  of  brave  acts 
obliterate  the  memory  of  this  unlucky  affair.  The  death  of 
.Colonel  Rail  has  taken  him  away  from  my  wrath  which  he 
so  well  deserved  in  allowing  himself  in  so  inexcusable  a  way 
to  be  surprised.  They  also  are  without  excuse  who  after 
Colonel  Rail  had  been  mortally  wounded  consented  to  sur- 
render themselves  in  such  a  shameful  manner  instead  of 
making  an  effort  to  break  through  and  fight  their  way  out  as 
is  always  expected  of  good  soldiers  when  they  cannot  any 
longer  hold  the  position.  The  number  of  men  who  suc- 
ceeded in  escaping  plainly  shows  what  the  rest  could  have 
>  Part  ii.  No.  66. 


done  if  the  officers  remaining  had  done  their  duty  and  not 
put  aside  the  obligations  they  were  under  to  me,  to  the 
honour  of  my  troops  and  to  their  own  reputation.  The  full 
particulars  of  this  shameful  act  are  not  known  to  me  at 
present  but  nothing  has  as  yet  come  to  my  knowledge  which 
atones  for  this  disgrace.  I  therefore  order  the  lieutenant- 
general  to  examine  all  the  officers  on  their  return  and  report 
to  me  the  exact  state  of  the  affair.  I  am  compelled  to  make 
an  example  of  the  guilty  party,  and  I  will  state  in  advance 
that  these  regiments  will  never  receive  any  flags  again,  un- 
less they  capture  from  the  enemy  as  many  as  they  have  lost 
in  such  a  disgraceful  manner.   .   .   . 

Greater  than  my  joy  at  the  honorable  conduct  of  my 
troops  on  their  arrival  in  America  is  now  my  surprise  and 
indignation  on  reading  the  report  of  the  unlucky  affair  at 
Trenton  in  the  lieutenant-general's  report  of  the  5th  day  of 
January.  The  loss  of  such  well-organized  regiments,  with 
their  flags  and  their  cannon  is  not  only  an  everlasting  re- 
proach to  my  troops  but  I  must  believe  according  to  the 
report  of  the  affair  which  has  come  to  my  knowledge  that 
these  organizations  did  not  regard  their  duty  nor  their  own 
honour  which  up  to  that  time  they  had  guarded  so  well.  I 
reserve  still  my  decision  until  I  am  more  fully  informed  of 
all  the  circumstances  of  this  disgraceful  affair,  which  could 
only  have  taken  place  by  an  utter  disregard  and  neglect  of 
all  discipline  and  all  existing  orders.  Colonel  Rail  was  not 
a  senior  in  rank  on  the  army  list  and  the  lieutenant-general 
should  not  have  intrusted  him  with  a  brigade  but  have  taken 
the  oldest  colonel,  even  if  he  had  to  take  him  from  a  regi- 
ment on  Staten  Island  or  on  Long  Island. 

Other  letters  from  the  Hessian  prince  are  given  else- 
where. ^ 

It  appears  that  General  Knyphausen  entered  on  this  in- 
vestigation ordered  by  his  sovereign  and  prosecuted  it  from 
time  to  time  during  the  whole  of  the  year  1777.  At  the 
1  Part  ii.  No.  67. 


beginning  of  the  next  year  he  wrote  a  report  and  dispatched 
it  to  Cassel,  but  during  the  spring  and  summer  following 
continued,  as  directed,  the  examination  of  the  officers  and 
men  whenever  they  were  released  from  captivity.  In  an- 
swer to  General  Knyphausen's  opinion,  Frederick  II.,  Land- 
grave of  Hesse-Cassel,  wrote  him  April  23,  1779.^ 

As  soon  as  the  exchange  of  the  captured  officers  began, 
in  the  spring  of  1778,  and  the  liberated  prisoners  returned 
to  the  British  army  in  Philadelphia  a  court  was  instituted  to 
examine  into  the  cause  of  the  surprise  at  Trenton  and  to 
determine  who  was  to  blame  for  the  disaster.  Colonel  Carl 
Uphraim  von  Gozen  of  the  von  Donop  regiment,  afterward 
of  the  regiment  Prinz  Carl,  Major  Ludwig  Friedrich  von 
Stamfurth  of  the  regiment  du  Corps  and  Captain  Ludwig 
Maive  von  Mallet  of  the  von  Linsingen  battalion  constituted 
the  court.  From  time  to  time  all  the  ofificers  of  the  Rail 
brigade  who  were  then  living  and  who  had  not  gone  over  to 
the  American  army  testified  before  this  court  as  to  their 
knowledge  of  the  affair. 

The  first  meeting  of  the  court  was  held  in  Philadelphia 
April  13,  1778,  and  continued  there  April  14,  18,  21,  22,  28, 
May  I  and  2.  Then  Justin  Heinrich  Motz,  upper  auditor, 
prepared.  May  4,  1778,  a  description  of  the  surprise  at  Tren- 
ton "  as  far  as  I  can  understand  it  from  the  investigation 
documents."  The  court  continued  to  convene  May  7,  8,  9, 
II,  12,  14,  15,  16,  19,  20,  21  and  22.  After  a  march  through 
the  Jerseys  and  the  battle  of  Monmouth,  June  28,  1778,  it 
reconvened  at  Horn's  Hook,  near  Haarlem,  New  York,  in  the 
camp  of  the  regiment  von  Donop,  and  continued  August  4, 
5,6,  7,  10,  12,  13  and  17.  On  August  18  it  met  at  John's 
House,  New  York,  on  August  24  at  Lieutenant-Colonel 
Scheffer's  quarters,  on  August  29  again  at  Horn's  Hook  and 
at  the  Morris  House  on  September  23,  1778.  The  result  of 
all  this  investigation  was  attested  by  Justin  Heinrich  Motz, 
upper  auditor,  and  sent  to  the  Prince  of  Hesse,  September 
23,   1778,  officially  signed  and  with  the  Hessian  auditorial 

seal  affixed. 

1  Part  ii.  No.  68. 


On  December  22,  1778,  a  Hessian  official  at  Cassel,  Wa- 
german  by  name,  made  a  digest  of  all  the  reports,  state- 
ments and  conclusions  for  the  benefit  of  the  Prince  of  Hesse. 

The  investigation  dragged  along  during  the  years  1780 
and  1 78 1,  and  on  December  13,  1781,  Auditor  Johann  Jacob 
Lotheisen  gave  to  the  Landgrave  of  Hesse  an  estimate  of 
the  killed  and  wounded  of  the  Rail  brigade.^ 

On  January  5,  1782,  a  court-martial  was  again  organized, 
and  all  the  officers  who  took  part  in  the  affair  at  Trenton 
were  again  examined  or  had  their  former  testimony  read  to 
them,  they  assenting  to  it. 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Francis  Scheffer  of  the  von  Lossberg 
regiment  was  unable  to  be  present  before  this  court,  and 
he  sent  a  letter  to  them,  v/hich  communication  is  herewith 
given,  as  well  as  the  proceedings  of  the  court  relative  to 
their  action  in  the  matter.^ 

This  court  was  in  session  for  a  week,  and  at  the  end  of  that 
time,  January  11,  1782,  the  officers  of  each  of  the  different 
ranks  represented  were  called  upon  for  their  opinions  as  to 
the  cause  of  the  disaster  at  Trenton.  It  is  very  interesting 
to  read  the  different  views  of  the  matter,  from  those  of  the 
young  ensigns,  up  through  the  different  grades,  each  officer 
having  had  longer  experience  in  the  service,  until  we  learn 
what  the  veteran  colonels  had  to  say  of  the  cause  of  the 
defeat.  3 

On  the  15th  day  of  April,  1782,  a  special  commission 
which  had  been  ordered  by  the  Prince  of  Hesse  to  convene 
at  Cassel  to  review  all  the  minutes  of  the  courts,  the  testi- 
mony there  given  and  the  opinions  expressed,  addressed  to 
the  prince  a  communication  in  which  a  final  summing  up  of 
the  whole  case  was  attempted.*  The  war  being  then  virtu- 
ally over,  this  was  the  last  action  taken  in  the  matter.  Dur- 
ing all  these  years  the  regiments  of  von  Lossberg  and  von 
Knyphausen  had  not  been  allowed  to  carry  new  company 
and  regimental  colors.      In   1777  the  name  of  the  grenadier 

1  Part  ii.  No.  69.  2  p^rt  ii.  No.  70. 

3  Part  ii.  No.  71.  •*  Part  ii.  No.  72. 


regiment  Rail  had  been  changed  to  the  grenadier  regiment 
Woellwarth,  in  1778  to  the  regiment  von  Trumbach,  and  in 
1779  to  the  regiment  d'Angelelli. 

The  "War  Commission"  confirmed  the  "verdict"  of  the 
court  of  inquiry,  that  "  Colonel  Rail  and  Major  von  Dechow 
in  many  respects  acted  culpably  and  laid  the  foundation  for 
the  bad  fate  of  the  brigade." 

To  many  it  has  always  been  a  matter  of  regret  that  the 
general  plan  of  the  surprise  and  attack  could  not  have  been 
fully  carried  out.  General  Ewing,  as  we  have  seen,  found  it 
impossible  to  get  his  troops  across  the  river,  on  account  of 
the  drifting  ice.  Yet  to  some  this  failure  appears  provi- 
dential. If  he  had  crossed  during  the  night,  according  to 
orders,  he  must  have  kept  his  men  entirely  concealed  from 
daylight  until  eight  o'clock,  although  within  easy  sight  of 
the  barracks  on  Front  street  and  within  twenty  minutes' 
walk  of  the  guard  of  the  Hessian  force  at  the  Assunpink 
bridge  and  the  quarters  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  in 
the  square  beyond.  In  addition  to  this  there  was  a  picket 
at  Trenton  Landing  and  an  outpost  at  Dr.  Bryant's  house,  on 
the  river,  from  both  of  which  places  the  crossing  of  General 
Ewing's  men  would  have  been  plainly  visible.  If,  however, 
he  had  succeeded  in  crossing,  and  had  not  been  seen  until 
eight  o'clock,  he  certainly  could  have  prevented  the  escape 
across  the  creek  of  many  of  the  fugitives  of  Rail's  brigade 
and  have  rendered  important  aid  in  the  movements  of  the 
patriot  army.  On  the  other  hand,  had  he  been  seen  cross- 
ing the  river,  had  he  failed  to  surprise  the  out-guard  at  the 
landing,  or  had  a  single  man  of  his  command  exposed  himself 
to  view  before  eight  o'clock  m  the  morning  Rail's  veterans 
would  have  picked  up  the  little  party  of  militia  before  break- 
fast, the  Hessian  regiments  would  not  have  been  so  thor- 
oughly surprised,  and  the  American  army  must  have  fought 
a  terrible  battle  with  perhaps  a  different  result. 

Although  all  history  speaks  of  this  intended  crossing  as  at 
Trenton  Ferry,  it  certainly  appears  reasonable  that  Bond's 
Ferry,  two  miles  down  the  river,  must  have  been  the  place 


selected  for  the  crossing,  for  at  that  place  a  sudden  bend  in 
the  river,  there  less  than  300  yards  wide,  and  the  high 
grounds,  now  the  Riverview  Cemetery,  between  Bond's 
Ferry  and  Trenton,  would  have  somewhat  concealed  the 
passage  of  Ewing's  division  from  all  but  the  picket  at  Tren- 
ton Landing. 

With  what  varied  emotions  the  detachments  of  Generals 
Ewing  and  Dickinson  must  have  listened  to  the  firing,  seen 
the  rush  of  the  attacking  party  of  General  Sullivan,  as  they 
swept  the  yager  outpost  from  General  Dickinson's  own  man- 
sion on  the  river  bank,  and  watched  the  race  of  the  victors 
through  the  lower  streets  of  the  village,  and  they  unable 
to  aid  their  comrades  or  share  in  the  glories  of  the  first  real 
conquest  of  the  war! 

Colonel  Cadwalader  also  attempted  to  pass  his  division 
over  the  river,  but  was  obliged  to  abandon  the  design.  The 
floating  ice  above  Bristol  prevented  a  crossing,  and  he  deter- 
mined to  try  Dunk's  Ferry,  a  few  miles  below  the  town. 
Near  this  place  the  Third  battalion  of  Philadelphia  Asso- 
ciators  had  been  encamped  for  thirteen  days,  and  had  erected 
some  redoubts.  The  battalion  was  now  in  command  of  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel John  Ni.xon,  the  same  who  on  July  8  read 
and  proclaimed  the  Declaration  of  Independence  in  Philadel- 
phia for  the  first  time.  Soon  after  dark  five  large  bateaux 
and  three  scows  were  ready  at  the  ferry,  and  all  the  troops 
in  Bristol  marched  there  about  eight  o'clock  in  the  evening 
of  December  25.  These  troops  were  supplied  with  two  days' 
cooked  rations,  but  the  Continentals  were  suffering  greatly 
from  want  of  shoes,  stockings  and  clothing.  On  the  march 
to  the  ferry  the  militia  were  on  the  right,  and  the  New  Eng- 
land brigade  on  the  left  of  the  column.  Colonel  Timothy 
Matlock,  in  command  of  the  Philadelphia  rifle  battalion,  led  the 
advance  of  the  brigade  of  Pennsylvania  militia.  The  Kent 
County  Delaware  militia  under  Captain  Thomas  Rodney,  and 
a  battalion  of  four  companies  of  militia  from  Philadelphia, 
Captain  George  Henry  senior  ofificer  in  command,  embarked 
first,  that  they  might  cover  the  landing  of  the  two  brigades 


on  the  New  Jersey  shore.  Both  of  these  organizations  suc- 
ceeded in  crossing  the  river.  About  nine  o'cloclc  the  First 
Philadelphia  battalion  of  Associators  started  over  the  ferry, 
closely  followed  by  the  Third  battalion,  and  an  attempt  was 
made  to  land  two  six-pounder  brass  fieldpieces.  But  the 
tides,  which  they  evidently  had  forgotten,  affect  the  river 
below  the  falls  of  the  Delaware  at  Trenton,  and  nearly  300 
feet  of  thick  ice  which  had  just  found  a  lodgment  be- 
tween the  boats  and  the  Jersey  shore  rendered  their  task 
futile.  The  wind  was  blowing  a  gale,  and  the  night  was 
dark  and  very  cold.  It  was  found  impossible  to  transport 
the  guns  over  the  ice,  and  it  was  hazardous  to  proceed  with- 
out them.  A  single  file  of  Colonel  Glover's  regiment  of 
military  mariners  would  have  given  them  the  proper  time  for 
crossing,  and  shown  the  way  in  which  it  could  most  easily 
be  accomplished.  Just  before  morning,  after  an  all-night 
task  in  which  Major  Jehu  Eyre,  the  noted  shipwright  of 
Philadelphia,  labored  with  great  assiduity,  and  although 
600  men  had  crossed,  the  troops  all  returned  by  order 
to  the  former  post  at  Bristol,  and  Colonel  Cadwalader  was 
again  in  possession  of  his  headquarters,  at  the  tavern  of 
Charles  Bessonett,  on  the  river  bank.  Had  this  entire  divi- 
sion succeeded  in  crossing,  all  of  the  British  and  Hessian 
troops  would  doubtless  have  been  driven  from  their  canton- 
ments in  Burlington  County,  and  General  Washington  would 
have  instantly  secured  for  his  army  a  firm  hold  upon  a  con- 
siderable portion  of  the  State. 

Referring  in  his  diary  to  the  attempts  of  the  divisions  of 
General  Ewing  and  Colonel  Cadwalader  ^  to  cross  the  river 
into  New  Jersey,  Captain  Thomas  Rodney  says :  "  I  am 
inclined  to  think  that  General  Washington  meant  these  only 
as  feints,  for  if  our  generals  had  been  in  earnest,  we  could 
have  taken  Burlington  with  the  light  troops  alone." 

Colonel  Joseph  Reed,  Washington's  adjutant-general,  and 
Major  Joseph  Cowperthwaite  of  the  First  Philadelphia  bat- 
talion of  Associators,  after  crossing  with  the  first  detachment 
1  Part  ii.  No.  73. 


of  the  army  at  Dunk's  Ferry,  remained  on  the  New  Jersey 
side  of  the  Delaware  River.  They  concealed  themselves  in 
Dr.  Bowes  Reed's  residence  in  Burlington,  and  through  his 
brother's  agency  Colonel  Reed  managed  to  send  out  some 
spies  to  Mount  Holly  during  Christmas  night  to  ascertain 
the  condition  of  the  Hessian  advance  guard.  They  found 
the  guard  asleep  in  their  quarters,  not  expecting  attack  and 
apparently  regardless  of  it ;  indeed,  in  the  same  situation  as 
their  comrades  at  Trenton.  After  obtaining  this  important 
information,  the  two  officers  returned  unseen  from  Burling- 
ton, and  at  daylight  landed  at  Bristol. 

As  soon  as  he  heard  of  the  disaster  at  Trenton,  Colonel 
von  Donop,  the  hitherto  cautious  officer,  who  had  just  made 
the  foolish  and  fruitless  pursuit  of  Colonel  Griffin's  command, 
which  had  decoyed  him  to  Mount  Holly,  went  to  Black  Horse 
and  thence  to  AUentown.  He  deemed  it  important,  as  he 
said,  to  keep  the  way  open  to  Princeton,  and  thought  it  best 
to  retire  before  an  enemy  approached.  He  then  sent  Cap- 
tain Thomas  Gamble,  the  acting  quartermaster-general,  to 
Princeton  to  inform  General  Leslie  of  the  direful  news  he 
had  received,  and  how  he  proposed  to  act.  He  had  then  but 
nine  cartridges  for  each  of  his  cannon,  and  his  ammunition 
for  firelocks  was  very  small. 

He  also  sent  an  order  to  Lieutenant-Colonel  von  Minni- 
gerode,  in  command  at  Bordentown,  to  vacate  that  place  and 
join  him  immediately.  This  order  the  lieutenant-colonel  re- 
ceived at  midnight,  December  26.  Early  in  the  morning  of 
December  27  his  men  despoiled  the  library  of  Francis  Hop- 
kinson,  a  signer  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence,  com- 
mitted other  injuries  to  the  place  and  the  people,  and  then 
left  the  village  in  great  haste.  In  this  way  all  the  outposts 
in  the  advance  toward  Philadelphia  were  abandoned.  The 
Hessians  left  twenty  sick  and  wounded  men  in  Bordentown 
for  the  patriots  to  care  for  and  some  provisions  and  forage 
which  they  were  unable  to  carry  away  for  want  of  wagons. 
All  the  fugitives  of  Rail's  brigade,  reported  at  this  time  as 
292  men,  including  the  picket  force  at   Crosswicks  bridge. 


accompanied  Lieutenant-Colonel  von  Minnigerode  to  Allen- 

It  may  be  mentioned  here  that  Captain  Heinrich  Ludwig 
Boking,  the  ranking  officer  of  the  Rail  regiment,  was  placed 
in  charge  of  all  the  escaped  men  of  this  brigade  until  just 
before  they  arrived  in  Princeton,  when  he  was  superseded 
by  Captain  Alexander  von  Wilmowsky,  formerly  of  the  regi- 
ment von  Bose,  who  commanded  them  until,  marching  by 
way  of  Amboy,  they  arrived  in  New  York  city. 

The  following  order  issued  by  General  Howe  appears  to 
have  reference  to  the  men  who  escaped  to  Bordentown  and 
Princeton  on  December  26  :  — 

Head  Quarters  New  York  Jan  ist  1777 

The  Remains  of  Col.  Rail's  Brigade  being  under  Orders 
for  New  York  the  Deputy  Quarter  Master  General  will  pro- 
vide Vessels  to  receive  them,  at  Amboy,  where  they  are  to 
Embark,  and  the  Barrack-Master  of  New  York  will  prepare 
Barracks  to  receive  them.  .  .  . 

During  the  afternoon  of  Friday,  December  27,  General 
Leslie,  then  in  command  at  Princeton,  wrote  to  Colonel  von 
Donop,  expressing  his  regrets  for  the  disaster  at  Trenton. ^ 
In  this  letter  General  Leslie  desired  Colonel  von  Donop 
to  remain  at  Allentown,  but  subsequently  he  must  have  be- 
come alarmed  at  the  situation  of  affairs,  and  have  spent  a 
wakeful  night.  No  doubt  exaggerated  accounts  of  the  affair 
at  Trenton  and  of  the  condition  of  Washington's  army  were 
hourly  coming  to  his  notice.  At  all  events  it  seems  that  at 
two  o'clock  he  wrote  to  Colonel  von  Donop,  and  at  daylight 
an  express  rider  took  another  letter  to  the  Hessian  com- 

Colonel  von  Donop  answered  General  Leslie's  letters  im- 
mediately. His  reply,  singular  to  relate,  is  written  in  French 
instead  of  German  :  — 

1  Part  ii.  No.  74. 

2  For  these  letters  see  Part  ii.  No.  75. 


Sir  : 

I  was  fortunate  in  receiving  your  communication  of  this 
morning  at  eight  o'cloclc  and  I  will  set  all  in  motion,  although 
the  news  of  yesterday  from  Trenton  does  not  inform  me 
about  the  1400  men  which  according  to  your  information 
have  marched  toward  Pennington  to  join  the  Jersey  Troops 
at  Rocky  Hill. 


Allextown  28th  Dec  1776. 

Will  you  have  the  kindness  to  advise  me  whether  I  ought 
in  marching  to  join  you  with  all  my  force  or  whether  I  ought 
to  stop  some  on  the  way  or  post  some  of  them  here. 

General  Grant,  the  British  commanding  officer  at  Bruns- 
wick, sent  an  express  to  General  Howe  at  New  York,  desir- 
ing instructions  as  to  where  he  should  place  Colonel  von 
Donop's  force,  but  in  the  mean  time  he  wrote  to  von  Donop, 
giving  him  orders  as  to  what  he  should  do  until  plans  for  the 
future  should  be  settled.  ^ 

At  eight  o'clock  on-  the  morning  of  December  28  a  re- 
port reached  Colonel  von  Donop  that  1400  rebels  had 
landed  in  Trenton,  marched  to  Pennington  and  thence  to 
Rocky  Hill,  where  they  had  united  with  a  large  body  of  New 
Jersey  militia  for  the  purpose  of  making  an  attack. on  Prince- 
ton. Colonel  von  Donop  sent  his  baggage  to  Cranbeny 
under  a  guard  of  100  grenadiers  commanded  by  Captain 
Johann  Friedrich  von  Stein,  whom  he  instructed  to  wait 
there  for  orders,  and  then,  taking  the  direct  road,  he_ 
marched  with  all  his  force  toward  Princeton.  "Scarcely  was 
his  column  in  motion  when  he  received  General  Grant's  let- 
ter, ordering  him  to  go  into  garrison  at  Princeton.  Two 
hours  afterward  he  received  another  letter  from  General 
Grant,  brought  by  Lieutenant  Patrick  Henry,  adjutant  of 
Lieutenant-Colonel  Elisha  Lawrence's  First  battalion  of  New 
Jersey  volunteers,  loyalists,  of  Brigadier-General  Courtlandt 
Skinner's  command.^ 

1  Part  ii.  No.  76.  2  p^^t  ii.  No.  77. 


General  Leslie  was  ordered  to  send  toward  Trenton  a 
patrol  and  guard  of  light  infantry  to  obtain  news  and  to 
cover  somewhat  the  march  of  von  Donop's  force  to  Prince- 
ton. He  was  also  directed  that  on  the  arrival  of  this  column 
he  should  place  some  of  the  British  troops  at  Kingston  and 
at  Six  Mile  Run,  and  station  the  second  brigade  of  the 
British  line  and  the  Forty-second  regiment  of  foot  at  Rocky 
Hill,  and  let  them  throw  out  pickets  towards  Pluckemin. 

As  soon  as  von  Donop  arrived  at  Princeton,  he  reported 
the  fact  to  his  superior  officer,  General  Grant,  at  Brunswick, 
and  touched  upon  the  condition  of  matters  there. ^ 
1  Part  ii.  No.  78. 


Colonel  von  Donop's  force  arrived  in  Princeton  at  two 
o'clock  in  the  afternoon  of  December  28,  and  immediately 
went  into  quarters  to  take  the  place  of  Leslie's  brigade  of 
the  British  line.  The  von  Minnigerode  battalion  succeeded 
in  finding  houses  for  their  occupancy  in  the  town,  the  Forty- 
second  regiment  quartered  toward  Stony  Brook  on  the  road 
to  Maidenhead,  the  yagers  in  houses  north  of  Princeton  on 
the  road  to  Kingston,  and  the  von  Linsingen  and  Block 
battalions,  with  the  men  of  the  Rail  brigade,  remained  in 
Kingston.  Even  then  there  were  ,not  sufficient  houses  in 
which  to  quarter  von  Donop's  entire  command,  and  the  first 
night  some  400  men  were  obliged  to  camp  out  in  the  open 
fields.  An  order  was  sent  to  Captain  von  Stein  at  Cran- 
berry to  bring  the  baggage  on  to  Princeton.  He  reported 
in  Princeton  on  the  night  of  December  29. 

General  Leslie  did  not  relish  the  idea  of  leaving  his  plea- 
sant quarters  in  Princeton,  and  he  tried  in  every  way  to 
delay  his  own  departure,  hoping  that  some  change  might  be 
made  in  the  orders  and  he  be  allowed  to  retain  the  chief 
command  in  the  town. 

During  the  night  of  December  28  additional  reports 
reached  Princeton  of  the  movements  of  American  troops  in 
New  Jersey.  The  Forty-second  regiment  was  then  sent 
towards  Maidenhead,  where  the  light  infantry  was  stationed, 
and  the  von  Linsingen  regiment  took  its  place  at  Stony 
Brook  and  toward  Eight  Mile  Run.  At  the  slightest  alarm 
Colonel  Block  at  Kingston  was  to  march  his  men  to  the 
high  ground  around  the  college  at  Princeton.  The  yagers 
were  directed  to  form  a  rear-guard.  The  baggage  of  von 
Donop's  division  was  kept  packed  that  it  might  be  quickly 
sent  on  to  Brunswick  if  necessary. 


Colonel  von  Donop  then  ordered  two  small  redoubts  to  be 
erected  on  the  south  side  of  Princeton  village,  and  made 
other  preparations  for  the  anticipated  attack  on  his  post. 
On  the  29th  of  December  another  rumor  reached  him  of 
the  approach  of  General  Washington's  army.  The  next  day 
strong  patrols  were  sent  out  from  Maidenhead  toward  Pen- 
nington, but  they  could  not  discover  any  traces  of  the  Amer- 
icans. About  nine  o'clock  in  the  morning  the  Hessians 
captured  an  officer  of  the  "rebel  army  "  who  evidently  was 
trying  to  discover  the  position  and  condition  of  the  British 

Referring  again  to  the  movements  of  the  American  army, 
we  remark  that  Colonel  Cadwalader  had  heard  the  firing  at 
Trenton  early  in  the  morning  of  December  26,  but  had  sup- 
posed it  was  from  guns  on  the  west  bank  of  the  river.  He 
did  not  think  Washington's  column  could  have  succeeded 
in  crossing  the  river  with  their  cannon  when  he  had  been 
unable  to  do  so.  About  eleven  o'clock,  however,  he  received 
from  General  Ewing  the  intelligence  of  the  crossing  of  Gen- 
eral Washington's  army  and  of  the  suprise  of  the  Hessians 
which  General  Ewing' s  force  had  just  witnessed.  He  im- 
mediately gave  orders  that  the  troops  should  rest  that  day 
and  be  ready  to  cross  early  on  the  morning  of  December  27. 
During  the  day  supplies  of  clothing  reached  Bristol  from 
Philadelphia,  and  the  New  England  brigade,  which  was  "  in 
want  of  shoes,  stockings  and  breeches,"  was  soon  in  a  better 
condition.  About  ten  o'clock  on  Friday,  leaving  their  camp 
equipage  behind  with  a  small  party  under  command  of  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel William  Coates  of  the  First  battalion  Phila- 
delphia Associators,  the  division  began  to  cross  the  river  at 
Minnick's  Ferry,  about  a  mile  above  Bristol. ^  As  on  Christ- 
mas night,  the  light  troops  covered  the  landing,  and  the 
crossing  was  completed  just  before  three  o'clock  in  the 
afternoon.     It  was  then  that  Colonel  Cadwalader  first  learned 

1  This  ferry  was  called  after  its  owner.  Christian  Minnick.  In  the 
year  1795  it  was  changed  to  Bloomsdale  Ferry.  The  ferry  landing  in 
Pennsylvania  is  now  on  property  owned  by  D.  Landreth  &  Sons. 


of  the  retreat  of  Colonel  von  Donop's  force  from  Borden- 
town  and  Mount  Holly.  The  full  account  of  the  victory  at 
Trenton  was  also  communicated  to  him,  with  the  perplexing 
statement  that  the  army  had  returned  to  its  former  encamp- 
ment in  Pennsylvania.  He  was  now  greatly  embarrassed  to 
know  how  to  proceed,  ignorant  as  he  was  of  the  future  plans 
of  the  commander-in-chief.  A  council  of  his  officers  was 
held,  and  while  some  urged  a  return  to  Pennsylvania,  others 
thought  that  the  new  troops  should  be  immediately  allowed 
to  face  the  enemy,  as  they  desired,  and  to  share  if  possible 
in  the  results  of  the  victory  won  by  their  comrades.  It  was 
at  last  determined  to  repair  to  Burlington.  This  plan  was 
carried  out  with  great  caution  and  much  delay  caused  by 
a  circuitous  march  of  some  miles  to  avoid  the  Assiscunk 
Creek,  a  navigable  stream.  Later  it  was  discovered  that  it 
would  have  been  quite  as  easy  to  ha\'e  gone  to  Bordentown 
as  to  Burlington,  which  latter  movement  might  almost  be 
called  a  retreat  before  a  flying  foe. 

The  march  from  the  ferry  landing  to  Burlington  was  made 
with  the  rifle  battalion  in  single  file  on  the  right  and  then 
the  light  infantry  in  double  rank.  The  artillery  followed, 
and  behind  them  came  the  main  body  of  the  troops  in 
platoons.  In  this  way  Burlington  was  reached  about  nine 
o'clock  in  the  evening.  No  enemy  was  found  in  the  village, 
and  all  in  the  immediate  vicinity  were  in  great  consternation. 

Early  on  the  morning  of  December  27,  General  Washing- 
ton wrote  an  account  of  the  surprise  at  Trenton  and  sent 
it  to  Colonel  Cadwalader,  who  received  it  that  evening.^ 

From  Burlington  Colonel  Cadwalader  wrote  the  follow- 
ing letter  to  General  Washington.  It  was  commenced  in 
the  morning,  but  not  finished  until  the  afternoon,  when  he 
received  the  commander-in-chief's  letter :  — 

'  Part  ii.  No.  79. 

NO    ENEMY   TO    BE    FOUND  241 

Burlington  27th  December  1776 
10  o'clock. 
Sir  : 

As  I  did  not  hear  from  you  this  morning  and  being  pre- 
pared to  embark,  I  concluded  you  was  still  on  this  side  and 
therefore  embarked  and  landed  about  1 500  men  about  two 
miles  above  Bristol.  After  a  considerable  number  were 
landed,  I  had  information  from  the  paymaster  of  Colonel 
Hitchcock's  Brigade,  that  you  had  crossed  over  from  Tren- 
ton. This  defeated  the  scheme  of  joining  your  army.  We 
were  much  embarrassed  which  way  to  proceed.  I  thought 
it  most  prudent  to  retreat,  but  Colonel  Reed  was  of  opinion 
that  we  might  safely  proceed  to  Burlington  and  recom- 
mended it  warmly,  lest  it  should  have  a  bad  effect  on  the 
militia,  who  were  twice  disappointed.  The  landing  in  open 
daylight  must  have  alarmed  the  enemy  and  we  might  have 
been  cut  off  by  all  his  force  collected  to  this  place.  We  had 
intelligence  immediately  afterwards  that  the  enemy  had  left 
the  Black  Horse  and  Mount  Holly  !  upon  this  we  deter- 
mined to  proceed  to  Burlington.  Colonel  Reed  and  two 
other  officers  went  on  from  one  post  to  another,  'till  they 
came  to  Bordentown,  where  they  found  the  coast  clear. 
Colonel  Reed  and  Colonel  Coxe  are  now  there  and  we  shall 
march  at  four  to-morrow  morning  for  that  place. 

This  information  has  induced  me  to  proceed,  though  not 
quite  conformable  to  your  orders  which  I  received  on  the 
march  this  afternoon.  If  you  should  think  proper  to  cross 
over,  it  may  be  easily  effected  at  the  place  where  we  passed  ; 
a  pursuit  would  keep  up  the  panic.  They  went  off  with 
great  precipitation  and  pressed  all  the  wagons  in  their  reach. 
I  am  told  many  of  them  are  gone  to  South  Amboy.  If  we 
can  drive  them  from  West  Jersey,  the  success  will  raise  an 
army  next  spring  and  establish  the  credit  of  the  Continental 
money  to  support  it.  I  shall  write  to  you  to-morrow,  I  hope 
from  Trenton. 

I  am,  Sir,  your  most  obedient,  very  humble  servant 

John  Cadwalader. 


P.  S.  —  I  have  two  six-pounders,  brass  and  two  three- 
pounders,  iron. 

Colonel  Cadwalader  immediately  sent  out  scouts  and 
adopted  such  a  course  as  the  information  gained  might  war- 
rant. Adjutant-General  Joseph  Reed,  with  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  John  Cox  and  Major  Joseph  Cowperthwaite,  went 
toward  Bordentown  in  search  of  the  Hessian  pickets,  but  of 
course  found  their  posts  deserted.  Passing  through  Borden- 
town, where  the  Hessians  had  left  their  stores  and  their 
sick  and  wounded.  Colonel  Reed  rode  on  to  Trenton,  which 
he  entered  long  before  daylight  on  Saturday,  December  28. 

He  found  that  village  deserted  by  both  armies,  and  the 
inhabitants  in  ,a  state  of  fearful  anxiety,  not  knowing  what 
new  movement  was  about  to  be  made  on  the  town.  The 
condition  of  affairs  there  was  immediately  communicated 
to  General  Washington  by  Colonel  Reed,  who  respectfully 
urged  him  to  come  over  to  the  Jerseys  and  follow  up  his 

Colonel  Cadwalader's  entire  command,  joined  by  the  ma- 
rines from  the  armed  boats  on  the  Delaware  River  com- 
manded by  Major  Samuel  Nicholas,  Captains  Isaac  Craig, 
Thomas  Read,  William  Shippin  and  William  Brown,  left 
Burlington  about  nine  o'clock,  the  light  troops  having  left 
just  after  daylight,  and  they  all  reached  Bordentown  at  two 
o'clock  on  the  afternoon  of  December  29,  having  marched 
on  the  River  road  by  way  of  Crooked  Billet  and  White 
Hill.  The  whole  country  had  been  pillaged  ;  no  grain  nor 
hay  nor  live  stock  was  to  be  found  in  all  the  day's  march. 

The  American  advance  troops  entered  the  village  of  Bor- 
dentown with  great  caution.  It  was  known  that  the  main 
body  of  the  British  army  had  deserted  the  town,  but  it  was 
understood  that  their  light  horse  were  near  and  ready  to 
make  an  attack  at  any  moment.  However,  the  town  was 
gradually  surrounded,  pickets  were  thrown  out  on  all  the 
roads,  and  after  an  hour  had  elapsed  the  Americans  took 
possession  of  the  village.     A  small  hospital,  very  dirty,  and 


containing  a  few  sick  and  wounded  Hessians,  was  the  only 
evidence  of  the  former  occupation  by  the  German  troops. 

Soon  after  the  arrival  of  the  Americans  in  Bordentown, 
a  party  of  lOO  riflemen,  100  light  infantry  and  100  active 
young  men,  picked  from  the  militia,  was  sent  toward  Cross- 
wicks  and  on  the  Old  York  road  to  harass  the  rear  of  Colo- 
nel von  Donop's  column,  which  rumor  said  was  moving 
slowly,  being  encumbered  with  much  plunder  and  baggage. 

On  December  29  the  advance  detachment  were  reinforced 
by  another  strong  body  of  militia,  and  they  pressed  on 
through  Allentown  as  far  as  Cranberry.  They  did  not  suc- 
ceed in  reaching  the  main  body  of  Colonel  von  Donop's 
corps,  but  overtook  only  the  straggling  parties.  At  Cran- 
berry they  received  orders  to  return,  and  that  same  night 
marched  back  as  far  as  Allentown.  A  few  prisoners  were 
made  by  these  detachments  on  reconnoissance,  a  German 
officer  was  killed  and  a  standard  of  the  Bernberg  company 
of  bne  of  the  Hessian  regiments  was  captured.  This  stand- 
ard is  still  preserved. 

Glancing  for  a  moment  at  Congress,  then  in  session  at 
Baltimore,  we  find  that  on  December  27  they  resolved  to 
invest  the  commander-in-chief  with  extraordinary  powers, 
and,  as  it  was  asserted  at  the  time,  with  the  office  of  "  Dic- 
tator" of  the  United  States.  This  was  done  before  the 
tidings  of  the  victory  af  Trenton  reached  them,  on  account 
of  the  urgent  state  of  public  affairs,  their  distance  from  the 
theatre  of  war,  and  the  immediate  necessity  for  a  vigorous 
reinforcement  of  the  army.  The  text  of  their  proceedings 
is  as  follows  :  — 

"This  Congress,  having  maturely  considered  the  present 
crisis,  and  having  perfect  reliance  on  the  wisdom,  vigour  and 
uprightness  of  general  Washington,  do  hereby 

"  Resolve,  That  general  Washington  shall  be  and  he  is 
hereby  vested  with  full,  ample  and  complete  powers  to  raise 
and  collect  together,  in  the  most  speedy  and  effectual  man- 
ner, from  any  or  all  of  these  United  States,  sixteen  battalions 
of   infantry  in   addition   to  those  voted   by  Congress  ;    to 


appoint  officers  for  the  said  battalions  of  infantry ;  to  raise, 
officer  and  equip  3000  light  horse ;  three  regiments  of  artil- 
lery and  a  corps  of  engineers  and  to  establish  their  pay ;  to 
apply  to  any  of  the  states  for  such  aid  of  the  militia  as  he 
shall  judge  necessary  ;  to  form  such  magazines  of  provisions 
and  in  such  places  as  he  shall  think  proper ;  to  displace  and 
appoint  all  officers  under  the  rank  of  brigadier-general  and  to 
fill  up  all  vacancies  in  every  other  department  in  the  Ameri- 
can armies  ;  to  take,  wherever  he  may  be,  whatever  he  may 
want  for  the  use  of  the  army,  if  the  inhabitants  will  not  sell 
it,  allowing  a  reasonable  price  for  the  same ;  to  arrest  and 
confine  persons  who  refuse  to  take  the  Continental  Currency 
or  are  otherwise  disaffected  to  the  American  cause ;  and 
return  to  the  States,  of  which  they  are  citizens,  their  names, 
and  the  nature  of  their  offences,  together  with  the  witnesses 
to  prove  them  :  That  the  foregoing  powers  be  vested  in  gen- 
eral Washington,  for  and  during  the  term  of  six  months  from 
the  date  hereof,  unless  sooner  determined  by  Congress." 

In  the  letter  transmitting  the  resolve  of  Congress  to  Gen- 
eral Washington,  this  passage  occurs  :  "  Happy  it  is  for  this 
country,  that  the  General  of  their  forces  can  safely  be 
entrusted  with  the  most  unlimited  power,  and  neither  per- 
sonal security,  liberty  nor  property  be  in  the  least  degree 
endangered  thereby." 

General  Washington  wrote  to  the  president  of  Congress  in 
reference  to  this  mark  of  the  confidence  reposed  in  him  :  — 

"I  begjeave  to  assure  them,  that  all  my  faculties  shall  be 
employed  to  direct  properly  the  powers  they  have  been 
pleased  to  vest  me  with,  and  to  advance  those  objects,  and 
only  those,  which  gave  rise  to  this  honourable  mark  of  dis- 
tinction. If  my  exertions  should  not  be  attended  with  the 
desired  success,  I  trust  the  failure  will  be  imputed  to  the 
true  cause,  the  peculiarly  distressed  situation  of  our  affairs 
and  the  difficulties  I  have  to  combat,  rather  than  to  a  want 
of  zeal  for  my  country,  and  the  closest  attention  to  her  inter- 
est, to  promote  which  has  ever  been  my  study."  ^ 

^  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  139. 


The  same  day,  January  i,  1777,  he  wrote  to  the  Commit- 
tee of  Congress,  Messrs.  Clymer,  Morris  and  Walton,  who 
had  transmitted  the  resolve  of  Congress  to  him :  "  I  find 
they  have  done  me  the  honour  to  intrust  me  with  powers,  in 
my  military  capacity  of  the  highest  nature  and  almost  unlim- 
ited in  extent.  Instead  of  thinking  myself  freed  from  all 
civil  obligations,  by  this  mark  of  confidence,  I  shall  constantly 
bear  in  mind,  that  as  the  sword  was  the  last  resort  for  the 
preservation  of  our  liberties,  so  it  ought  to  be  the  first  thing 
laid  aside,  when  those  liberties  are  firmly  established."  ^ 

These  resolutions  gave  General  Washington  all  the  au- 
thority necessary  to  recruit  and  reorganize  his  command  in 
his  own  way,  and  then  to  sustain  it  in  the  field.  It  also  gave 
him  the  power,  so  much  needed  before,  to  organize  engineer 
regiments  and  recruit  the  cavalry  and  artillery  arms  to  an 
efficient  standard.  It  gave  him  the  opportunity  to  enlist 
men  for  a  long  term  of  service  instead  of  for  a  few  weeks  or 
months,  as  heretofore  ;  to  embody  troops  into  a  permanent 
force  instead  of  enlisting  them  in  a  temporary  army ;  to 
reform  the  two  weak  points  of  the  American  army  —  short 
enlistments  and  the  depending  on  the  rallying  of  an  undisci- 
plined militia  in  the  moment  of  peril. 

In  reference  to  the  condition  of  the  American  army  at 
this  time,  Burke  remarks  in  his  "  History  of  Virginia : " 
"  Like  other  arts,  the  art  of  war  requires  an  apprenticeship 
and  the  protracted  duration  of  most  contests  between  mod- 
ern governments  necessitates  symmetry  and  continuity  of 
warlike  measures,  persevering  and  patient  constancy,  me- 
chanical rather  than  impulsive  courage,  all  which  are  scarcely 
compatible  with  short  enlistments." 

As  soon  as  Washington  received  the  letter  of  his  adjutant- 
general  from  Trenton,  having  obtained  some  reinforcements 
to  that  part  of  the  army  under  his  immediate  command,  he 
resolved  to  return  to  New  Jersey  ;  and  General  Greene 
immediately  crossed  the  river  at  Trenton  Ferry  with  300 
^  Ford's  Writings  of  George  Washington,  vol.  v.  p.  143. 


men,  and  took  possession  of  the  village  of  Trenton.     Before 
moving,  the  commander-in-chief  sent  a  report  to  Congress.  ^ 

On  Monday  morning,  December  30,  General  Washington 
crossed  the  river  at  McKonkey's  Ferry,  in  advance  of  the 
main  body  of  his  troops,  and  hurried  on  to  Trenton.  During 
the  day  the  army  made  the  passage  of  the  Delaware  River 
at  Johnson's  Ferry,  Howell's  Ferry,  Beatty's  Ferry  and 
Trenton  Ferry,  the  boats  having  been  brought  down  from 
Malta  Island.  To  secure  the  ferries  and  guard  the  sur- 
rounding country  against  any  surprise  by  strolling  parties  of 
British,  General  Washington  left  in  Pennsylvania  a  small 
command,  with  headquarters  at  Newtown,  under  General 
Lord  Stirling,  who  had  been  afflicted  with  rheumatism  since 
the  affair  at  Trenton.  All  that  day  and  the  most  of  the  day 
following,  the  army  was  engaged  in  transpprting  baggage, 
provisions  and  artillery,  including  the  six  captured  cannon, 
across  the  Delaware  River.  Captain  Forrest's  artillery  com- 
pany were  unable  to  move  "  for  want  of  shoes  and  watch- 
coats."  The  floating  ice  was  still  a  constant  and  annoying 
hindrance.  The  weather,  however,  was  rather  mild,  and 
this,  with  the  remains  of  the  snow  and  hail  storm  of  the  pre- 
vious week,  rendered  the  roads  exceedingly  muddy. 

On  arriving  at  Trenton,  the  general  established  his  head- 
quarters at  the  house  of  Major  John  Barnes,  a  loyahst,  who 
was  at  that  time  a  field  officer  of  the  First  battalion.  New 
Jersey  volunteers,  of  General  Courtlandt  Skinner's  Tory 
brigade.  This  house  was  on  Queen  street,  near  the  Assun- 
pink  Creek  bridge,  and  Washington  remained  there  until  the 
morning  of  the  2d  of  January,  when  he  had  his  baggage 
moved  to  Jonathan  Richmond's  tavern,  on  the  south  side  of 
the  bridge. 

To  return  to  the  British  army  and  its  movements.  We 
have  seen  that  a  detachment  of  General  Leslie's  command 
made  a  reconnoissance  toward  Pennington.  On  their  way 
there  they  passed  out  of  the  Scotch  road,  and  endeavored 
to  procure  some  intelligence  of  the  whereabouts  of  General 
1  Part  ii.  No.  80. 



Washington  and  his  army  from  the  inmates  of  Benjamin 
Clarke's  house  at  Birmingham.  Failing  to  find  any  trace  of 
the  American  army,  they  at  last  became  convinced  that  all 
the  rumors  of  movements  to  Pennington  and  Rocky  Hill 
were  false. 

General  Cornwallis,  who  was  at  this  time  in  New  York, 
packing  his  mihtary  chest  for  a  trip  to  England,  and  filling 
his  notebook  for  the  ear  of  the  king  with  memoranda  of  the 


triumph  of  his  army  in  the  Jerseys,  was  suddenly  aroused 
from  his  self-complacency  by  the  news  of  the  terrible  disaster 
at  Trenton.  General  Howe  immediately  ordered  him  back 
to  his  command,  and  directed  that  all  his  troops  should  be 
massed  for  an  immediate  advance. 

The  commander  of  the  British  post  at  Brunswick,  Major- 
General  Grant,  marched  with  his  force  to  Princeton  on  the 
first  day  of  January,  leaving  only  about  600  men  to  guard 
the  stores  in  Brunswick.  These  were  in  charge  of  Brigadier- 
General  Edward  Mathew.  General  Grant  reached  Prince- 
ton at  noon  that  same  day. 



General  Cornwallis  joined  General  Grant  on  the  evening 
of  January  i  with  a  considerable  body  of  well-disciplined 
soldiers,  —  the  flower  of  the  army  in  America.  That  night 
Lord  Cornwallis  took  possession,  as  his  headquarters,  of 
"  Morven,"  the  residence  of  Richard  Stockton,  a  signer  of 
the  Declaration  of  Independence.  The  outposts  of  the 
British  were  then  at  Eight  Mile  Run,  about  three  and  one 
half  miles  south  of  Princeton. ^ 

On  Thursday  morning,  January  2,  Cornwallis,  now  in  full 
command  of  an  army  of  nearly  8000  men,  having  sent  all  his 
baggage  back  to  Brunswick,  started  on  his  march  to  Tren- 
ton. Slow  and  wearisome  was  the  tramp  and  difficult  the 
task  of  hauling  the  guns  over  the  muddy  roadway. 

The  Fourth  brigade  of  the  British  hne,  —  Grant's  bri- 
gade, but  now  under  command  of  its  senior  officer,  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Mawhood,  Seventeenth  foot,  —  with  three 
regiments  and  three  troops  of  light  dragoons,  in  all  about 
1200  men,  with  two  pieces  of  artillery,  was  left  in  Prince- 
ton as  a  rear-guard,  but  was  ordered  to  march  to  Trenton 
on  the  morning  of  January  3.  In  addition  to  this  brigade 
there  were  some  soldiers  who  had  been  on  extra  duty  in  and 
around  New  York,  and  who  came  to  Princeton  during  the 
day,  under  orders  to  rejoin  their  respective  organizations. 

The  second  brigade,  under  command  of  General  Leslie 
(formerly  colonel  Sixty-fourth  foot,  and  an  aide-de-camp  to 
the  king,  but  now  acting  as  a  brigadier-general  in  America), 
was  ordered  by  Cornwallis  to  remain  at  Maidenhead,  now 
Lawrenceville.  At  least  5500  men  continued  on  the  march 
to  take  part  in  the  anticipated  fight  in  Trenton.  The  royal 
artillery  had  with  them  at  this  time  four  light  twelve- 
pounders,  fourteen  six-pounders,  eight  three-pounders  and 
two  five  and  a  half  inch  howitzers.^ 

'  For  composition  of  British  forces  in  New  Jersey  at  this  time,  see 
Part  ii.  No.  81. 

^  The  following  is  the  roster  of  the  officers  of  the  regiments  left  at 
Princeton ;  — 

The  Seventeenth  regiment  had  for  its  colonel  Lieutenant-General  the 




While  he  was  gathering  together  his  troops  for  the  con- 
flict which  appeared  so  certain  and  so  near  at  hand,  General 
Washington  tried  in  every  way  to  ascertain  the  strength  and 
disposition  of  the  forces  of  the  enemy.  His  brave  adjutant- 
general,  Colonel  Joseph  Reed,  again  did  the  cause  good  service. 
On  December  30,  accompanied  by  two  officers.  Second  Lieu- 
tenant James    Budden  and   Cornet   John   Dunlap,  Sergeant 

Hon.  Robert  ;\Ionckton.  it.s  commandinij;  officer;  lieutenant-colonel, 
Charles  Mawhood  ;  and  its  major.  Turner  von  Straubenzee.  The  captains 
of  companies  were  Francis  Tew,  William  John  Darby.  Perkins  MaLCra. 
Robert  Clayton,  William  Brereton,  C.eorge  Philip  Hooke,  ^\'illiam 
.Scott,  John  McPherson,  Hon.  William  Leslie  and  Thomas  Welch. 

The  Fortieth  regiment  had  for  its  honorary  colonel  Major-General 
.Sir  Robert  Hamilton,  baronet,  its  lieutenant-colonel  Thomas  Mu.sgrave, 
and  its  major  Samuel  Bradstreet.  Its  captains  were  James  Duffe,  James 
Wemys.s,  William  i\Iontgomery,  John  Graves  Simcoe,  Williams  Wolfe, 
William  Bamford,  FIdward  F2vre,  John  M.  Adlam.  and  Robert  Atostvn. 

The  Fiftv-hfth  regiment  was  General  James  Grant's  own  regiment, 
and  was  commanded  by  Lieutenant-Colonel  William  Meadows,  and  its 
major  was  Cornelius  Cuyler.  The  captains  were  John  Luke,  John  C,il- 
lan,  Garrett  Fisher,  Henry  Downing,  John  Taylor  Trevor,  John  McLach- 
lan,  Decimus  Reynolds,  William  Sutherland  and  Michael  Hamerton. 


Thomas  Leiper,  Corporals  William  Pollard  and  James  Hunter, 
and  Privates  Samuel  Caldwell,  George  Campbell,  John  Don-' 
naldson,  Samuel  Howell,  Jr.,  John  Lardner,  Thomas  Peters, 
Benjamin  Randolph,  all  of  Captain  Samuel  Morris's  Phila- 
delphia troop  of  light  horse.  Colonel  Reed  endeavored  to 
reconnoitre  the  position  of  the  enemy.  General  Washington 
was  anxious  to  know  the  strength  of  the  British  force  and 
the  probable  direction  of  their  intended  attack.  The  party 
of  thirteen  rode  within  three  miles  of  Princeton,  but  on  ac- 
count of  the  guards  were  unable  to  get  nearer  to  the  village. 
They  then  attempted  to  go  around  it  and  get  in  at  the  rear 
of  the  army,  but  in  this  also  they  found  some  difficulty. 
Having  obtained  all  the  information  possible,  they  started  to 
return  to  Trenton.  As  they  were  riding  along  the  Quaker 
road,  they  observed  some  soldiers,  apparently  unarmed,  pass- 
ing between  a  barn  and  a  dwelling-house.  This  house  the 
light  horse  party  surrounded,  and  they  secured  twelve  Brit- 
ish dragoons,  who  had  been  engaged  in  foraging,  and  had 
left  their  loaded  arms  within  the  house.  The  sergeant  of 
the  troop  alone  escaped,  and  he  reported  that  he  had  fought 
his  way  through  fifty  horsemen.  Besides  the  British  sol- 
diers taken  prisoners,  a  commissary  was  also  captured,  with 
his  entire  wagon  train.  From  these  prisoners  they  obtained 
a  good  account  of  the  numbers  and  condition  of  the  British 
army,  and  the  rumor  that  they  were  about  to  move  upon  the 
American  force  at  Trenton  was  confirmed.  A  part  of  the 
dwelling-house  referred  to  as  the  scene  of  this  little  exploit 
is  still  standing,  and  is  now  occupied  by  Mr.  John  Tindall 
Flock.  It  is  in  the  township  of  West  Windsor,  Mercer 
County,  about  three  miles  from  Princeton  and  a  half  mile 
southeast  of  the  village  of  Clarksville. 

As  soon  as  Washington  was  advised  of  the  movements  of 
the  British  troops,  he  took  position  on  the  high  ridge  which 
runs  along  the  south  bank  of  the  Assunpink  Creek.  In  the 
mean  time  orders  had  been  sent  to  Cadwalader  (who  on  De- 
cember 25,   1776,  had  been  made  a  general  officer  of  the 


Pennsylvania  militia  ^  by  the  Council  of  Safety,  and  was  then 
at  Crosswicks,  about  eight  miles  distant  from  Trenton)  to 
join  the  main  army  with  his  full  command.  In  the  councils 
of  the  commander-in-chief,  General  Washington  and  his  offi- 
cers had  discussed  the  advisability  of  ordering  Cadwalader 
to  make  a  rapid  detour  by  the  road  to  Cranberry  and  attack 
the  small  garrison  at  Brunswick,  recapture  Major-General 
Charles  Lee,  and  carry  off  all  the  military  and  commissary 
stores  which  General  Mathews's  force  were  guarding  there. 

On  the  night  of  December  30  General  Cadwalader  re- 
ceived information  that  Brunswick  had  but  a  guard  of  250 
men,  and  a  body  of  light  troops  started  out  to  attack  them 
should  the  report  be  true.  On  the  next  day  they  made  a 
forced  march  to  Cranberry,  and  then  began  to  gather  horses 
to  enable  them  to  execute  the  affair  quickly.  In  the  mean 
time  spies  who  had  been  in  Brunswick  reported  that  the 
guard  there  had  been  reinforced  by  1500  men,  and  this  of 
necessity  rendered  the  design  impracticable.  Accordingly, 
in  the  darkness  and  through  deep  mud  the  troops  wearily 
plodded  back  to  Allentown. 

In  this  critical  time  General  Washington  made  another 
appeal  to  the  New  Jersey  militia.  He  sent  out  a  body  of 
influential  men  to  gather  in  the  state  forces.  This  commit- 
tee consisted  of  Colonel  John  Neilson,  Second  regiment  of 
Middlesex  County  ;  Major  John  Taylor,  Fourth  regiment  of 
Hunterdon  County;  Major  John  Van  Emburgh,  Second 
regiment  of  Middlesex  County,  and  Major  Frederick  Fre- 
linghuysen,  brigade  major,  staff  of  General  Dickinson. 

General  Washington  also  issued  the  following  "  call  to 
arms  :    '• 

"'  General  Washington  addressed  him  as  Colonel  Cadwalader  on  De- 
cember 23,  1776,  and  expressed  a  wish  that  he  should  be  made  a  brig- 
adier, and  in  a  letter  to  the  President  of  the  Continental  Congress,  De- 
cember 27,  he  refers  to  him  as  General  Cadwalader.  But  he  seems 
from  the  Pennsylvania  Archives  not  to  have  been  commissioned  as 
such  until  April  5,  1777,  as  heretofore  stated. 

2  Original  in  possession  of  William  R.  Weeks  of  Newark,  New 

^    '--.'^ 



■■■-■■    >  ■ 

1      I 

Tv    .^i 

1      .. 



f  \ 







General  Thomas  Mifflin  had  been  wonderfully  suc- 
cessful in  obtaining  recruits  for  the  army  from  the  neighbor- 
ing counties,  under  the  instructions  to  him  by  Congress  on 
December  lo,  "  by  all  the  means  in  his  power  to  rouse  and 
bring  them  in  to  the  defense  of  Philadelphia."  On  the  27th 
day  of  December  he  sent  500  men  from  Philadelphia  across 
the  Bristol  ferry  to  Burlington.  The  next  day  300  more 
were  sent  over  at  the  same  place,  and  on  December  29 
General  MifHin  followed  in  person  with  800  soldiers,  assum- 
ing command  of  these  troops,  with  headquarters  at  Borden- 

This  force  was  chiefly  composed  of  farmers,  mechanics 
and  men  in  mercantile  pursuits,  —  men  who  knew  nothing 
of  war,  of  the  dangers  of  battle,  the  weary  march,  and  the 
exposure  in  sleeping  on  the  frozen  ground  without  tents  or 
blankets.  Yet  it  is  probable  that  no  stancher  patriots  ever 
enrolled  themselves  than  those  who  are  here  enumerated, 
who  left  their  homes  in  this  crisis  to  do  battle  for  the  free- 
dom of  their  country. 

On  December  28  Captain  Thomas  Procter's  battery  left 
Philadelphia  with  two  fieldpieces,  and  joined  the  army  on 
the  following  day.  Colonel  James  Penrose  was  left  in  com- 
mand of  the  post  at  Burlington.  The  entire  body  of  new 
troops  then  marched  up  the  River  road  to  Bordentown.  On 
the  first  day  of  January  they  were  ordered  to  join  the  main 
army  at  Trenton. 

On  December  29  General  Cadwalader  left  Bordentown 
about  two  o'clock  in  the  afternoon,  and  marched  his  column, 
now  about  2100  men,  to  Crosswicks,  arriving  there  at  dusk. 

1  For  General  Mifflin's  orders  and  return  of  these  troops  see  Part  ii. 
No.  82. 


Having  posted  his  command  in  and  near  the  meeting  house 
there,  he  communicated  with  the  commander-in-chief,  and 
awaited  further  orders.^ 

On  the  first  day  of  January  General  Cadwalader  was 
directed  to  join  General  Washington's  army  at  Trenton. 
He  marched  his  force  along  the  White  Horse  road,  crossing 
Doctor's  Creek  and  the  Sand  Hills,  and,  being  joined  by 
General  Mifflin's  division  at  the  White  Horse  Tavern,  the 
whole  column  moved  on  to  Trenton. 

It  was  not  until  eleven  o'clock  on  the  morning  of  Janu- 
ary 2,  however,  that  the  whole  of  the  additional  force,  about 
3600  men,  could  be  concentrated  on  the  banks  of  the  Assun- 
pink  Creek.  Some  time  had  been  required  to  gather  in  the 
picket-guards  and  the  scouting  parties  which  had  been  sent 
out  toward  Allentown,  Cranberry  and  Princeton.  It  had 
rained  during  the  night,  and  the  roads  were  muddy  and 
travel  greatly  hindered. 

Still  more  embarrassing  than  the  apparent  paucity  of 
numbers  and  the  inexperience  of  recruits  was  the  fact  that 
a  large  number  of  the  old  soldiers  of  the  Continental  army, 
especially  those  from  the  Eastern  States,  had  completed 
their  term  of  service  on  the  last .  day  of  the  year,  and  were 
about  to  march  homeward,  almost  "to  the  music  of  the 
enemy's  cannon." 

General  Knox,  whom  Congress  had  promoted  on  the  day 
after  the  attack  on  Trenton,  addressed  the  troops  December 
31,  and  urged  them  to  remain  for  a  few  days  longer.  Gen- 
eral Thomas  MifHin  also  came  up  from  Bordentown  to  speak 
to  the  soldiers.  John  Howard  of  Colonel  Lippitt's  regiment 
describes  him  on  this  occasion  as  "mounted  on  a  noble- 
looking  horse  and  clothed  in  an  overcoat  made  up  of  a  large 
rose  blanket  and  a  large  fur  cap  on  his  head."  In  this  rather 
unmilitary  garb  he  urged  the  old  troops  with  the  most  patri- 
otic appeals  to  stand  by  the  cause  of  independence.  Gen- 
eral Washington  told  the  men  that  so  far  they  had  served 
with  great  fidelity,  and  he  frankly  admitted  that  they  had  a 
1  Part  ii.  No.  83. 




right  to  their  discharge,  but  begged  them  to  look  at  the  posi- 
tion in  which  they  would  place  the  cause  "of  liberty  if  they 
now  left  for  their  homes.  He  alluded  to  the  victory  they 
had  achieved  a  few  days  previous,  and  showed  them  how  all 
this  would  be  naught  if  they  did  not  attempt  to  check  the 
advance  of  the  foe. 

General  Mifflin  also  had  been  to  Crosswicks,  and  in  com- 
pany with  General  Cadwalader  he  made  an  appeal  to  Colo- 
nel Hitchcock's  New  England  brigade  to  uphold  the  cause 
of  national  freedom  until  the  campaign  was  over.  Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel William  Henshaw  said  to  his  Massachusetts 
men  :  "  At  present  this  is  our  business,  let  us  not  forsake  it. 
It  is  you  and  I,  brave  boys,  who  are  banded  together  in  one 
common  cause.  We  scorn  the  thought  of  flying  from  it." 
They  consented.  The  time  of  the  First  and  Second  Rhode 
Island  regiments  expired  with  the  year,  but  the  Third  regi- 
ment had  still  eighteen  days  to  serve.  The  appeals  to  their 
patriotism  and  sense  of  right  prevailed,  and  they,  too,  re- 


In  these  addresses  General  Mifflin  made  some  promises 
with  reference  to  captured  property  that  were  never  fulfilled. 
Whether  or  not  these  pledges  really  affected  them,  it  is  dif- 
ficult to  say  ;  but  the  request  for  at  least  six  weeks  more  of 
service  and  an  offer  of  a  bounty  of  ten  dollars,  the  same 
which  Pennsylvania  had  already  given  her  militia,  caused  some 
1400  of  the  old  Continental  troops  to  poise  their  firelocks  as 
a  sign  that  they  consented  to  the  agreement.  On  the  first 
day  of  January  the  eminent  financier  Robert  Morris  of  Phil- 
adelphia sent  "  His  Excellency  General  Washington"  ^50,000 
which  he  had  collected  from  his  friends  in  Philadelphia  on 
his  own  credit  or  had  taken  from  his  private  purse.  This 
amount  was  in  addition  to  the  sum  of  hard  money,  "  four 
hundred  and  ten  Spanish  dollars,  two  crowns,  ten  shillings 
and  sixpence  in  English  coin  and  a  French  half  crown," 
which  he  had  forwarded  to  General  Washington  a  few  days 
previous.  The  last  installment  was  sent  with  a  characteristic 
letter  congratulating  General  Washington  on  the  affair  at 
Trenton,  and  adding,  "  If  further  occasional  supplies  of 
money  are  necessary,  you  may  depend  on  my  exertions 
either  in  a  public  or  private  capacity.  The  year  seventeen 
seventy-six  is  over  and  I  am  heartily  glad  of  it  and  hope  you 
nor  America  will  be  plagued  with  such  another."  In  this 
way  when  the  military  chest  was  empty  and  the  emergency 
was  pressing,  this  noble  patriot  exerted  himself,  and  always 
with  success,  to  contribute  to  the  support  of  the  army. 

The  new  and  old  troops  which  gathered  on  the  bank  of 
the  Assunpink  Creek  may  be  stated  as  about  5000  effective 
men,  although  a  large  proportion  of  them  were  almost  with- 
out discipline  and  had  yet  to  learn  the  first  duty  of  the 
soldier.  The  old  troops  were  but  relics  of  many  regiments 
depleted  by  long  marches  and  much  suffering.  The  splendid 
Delaware  regiment  of  Colonel  Haslet,  which  had  entered 
the  service  800  strong,  was  now  reduced  to  about  100  men. 
General  Smallwood's  Maryland  troops,  which  had  left  the 
State  with  over  1000  rifles,  numbered  but  150  men  fit  for 
duty.     This  gallant  organization,  which  had  commanded  the 



admiration  of  Philadelphians,  when  in  July,  1776,  they  had 
passed  through  that  city,  a  splendid  body  of  soldiers,  had  lost 
::50  men  at  the  battle  of  Long  Island,  and  was  now  but  a 
mere  fragment  of  a  regiment.  Nevertheless  General  Knox 
says  that  e\'en  at  this  time  they  were  "  in  high  spirits,"  but 
he  qualifies  the  remark  with  "  but  in  want  of  rum  and  cloth- 

It  does  not  appear  that  up  to  this  time  any  more  cavalry 


had  joined  the  army,  but  the  artiller}'  was  increased  by  the 
six  guns  which  had  been  captured  from  Colonel  Rail's  bri- 
gade and  another  battery  of  two  guns  organized  in  Phila- 

^  This  company  of  Pennsylvania  artillery  wa.s  accompanied  by  Major 
Thomas    Procter,   First    Lieutenant    Hercules   Courtney  commanding. 


As  soon  as  General  Washington  had  procured  definite 
information  of  the  strength  and  position  of  the  enemy,  he 
sent  out,  under  Brigadier-General  de  Fermoy,  a  detachment 
consisting  of  his  own  brigade,  Colonel  Edward  Hand's  Penn- 
sylvania riflemen  and  Colonel  Hausegger's  German  bat- 
talion, with  Colonel  Charles  Scott's  Virginia  Continental 
regiment  and  two  guns  of  Captain  Thomas  Forrest's  battery, 
to  harass  the  enemy  in  every  possible  way,  and  to  dispute 
their  advance  as  much  as  they  were  able,  that  the  impending 
battle  might  be  postponed  for  at  least  twenty-four  hours. 
The  Americans  posted  themselves  at  Five  Mile  Run,  a  short 
distance  south  of  the  village  of  Maidenhead,  with  pickets  up 
to  the  town.  The  British  outpost,  as  we  have  stated,  was 
at  Eight  Mile  Run,  about  a  mile  north  of  Maidenhead. 
This  was  the  state  of  affairs  on  the  old  Princeton  road  at 
the  close  of  New  Year's  day.^ 

During  the  night  it  rained  heavily,  and  in  the  morning 
the  roads  were  in  a  dreadful  condition.  According  to  orders 
the  British  army,  having  been  divided  into  three  columns, 
commenced  the  advance  from  Princeton  before  daylight  on 
the  morning  of  Thursday,  January  2,  with  a  detachment  of 
British  light  infantry  and  Hessian  yagers  at  their  head. 
One  of  these  yagers  was  killed  by  the  American  pickets 
while  he  was  attempting  to  capture  Elias  Hunt,  a  farmer  in 
that  neighborhood.  This  Hessian  was  buried  in  the  woods 
on  the  farm  of  Colonel  Joseph  Phillips,  opposite  the  Presby- 
terian Church.  Local  tradition  avers  that  for  many  years 
the  ghost  of  the  dead  man  was  seen  in  that  wood,  and  the 
negroes  of  the  neighborhood  carefully  avoided  the  place 
after  dark. 

First  Lieutenant  Worsley  Fames,  Second  Lieutenant  Charles  Turnbull, 
—  four  officers  and  forty-eight  enlisted  men  present.  First  Lieutenant 
Courtney  had  been  detached  from  Captain  Forrest's  company,  in  which 
First  Lieutenant  Fames  took  his  place.  Lieutenant  Courtney  was  soon 
after  made  captain,  and  Major  Procter  was  commissioned  colonel  of  the 
Pennsylvania  artillery  regiment. 
1  For  Washington's  letter  to  Congress  see  Part  ii.  No.  84. 



About  this  time  the 
commandants  of  regi- 
ments on  the  ach'ance 
hnes  of  the  American 
arm\-,  finding  that  Gen- 
eral de  Fermoy  had  re- 
turned to  Trenton  in  a 
very  questionable  man- 
ner, determined  to  re- 
sist the  advance  of  the 
king's  troops  without 
further  orders.  About 
ten  o'clock  the  first 
alarm  gun  was  fired  by 
the  American  videttes. 
Colonel  Hand,  with  his 
splendid  regiment  of  ri- 
flemen, Captain  Henr}- 
Miller  of  his  command 
being  in  charge  of  the 
skirmish  line,  conducted  the  retreat  to  Trenton.  Every 
place  which  would  even  for  a  few  moments  give  shelter  from 
which  to  take  a  steady  aim  was  taken  advantage  of,  and 
e\'ery  part  of  the  road  was  disj:)uted  in  all  possible  ways. 
On  one  occasion  so  stubborn  a  stand  was  made  by  the  Amer- 
icans that  a  check  was  produced  on  the  British  advance. 
They  actually  fell  back  and  the  jDatriots  carefull}-  pressed 
tow'ard  them.  At  last,  howe\'er,  the  American  detachment 
w-as  driven  to  the  woods  running  along  the  south  bank  of 
the  Shabbakonk  Creek,  and  here  a  severe  skirmish  com- 
menced about  one  o'clock,  and  a  deadly  fire  was  made  upon 
the  British  forces,  throwing  them  into  considerable  confu- 

For  a  long  time  this  conflict  was  maintained  with  great 
vigor,  and  the  battalions  of  von  Linsingen  and  Block,  a  part 
of  Colonel  von  Donop's  original  command,  were  actually 
drawn   up  in  order  of  battle,  expecting  then   and  there  to 


2f<o      THK    liATTLES    OF    TRENTON    AND    PRINCETON 

enter  upon  the  general  engagement  which  they  anticipated. 
For  fully  three  houi's  the  gallant  little  American  force,  some- 
what ])riitected  by  the  dense  woods,  harassed  the  redcoats 
and  continuall)-  thinned  their  ranks  with  musketry  and  artil- 
ler\-.  Right  well  did  they  can-y  out  the  plan  of  General 
W'ashmgton  to  consume  the  entnx-  day,  if  possible,  in  skir- 
mishing, and  so  retard  the  enemy's  advance  toward  Trenton. 
The  weather  was  ver\'  mild,  the  roads  were  in  wretched  con- 

.\1N     HliNKV    MILL 

dition,  and  it  was  difficult  for  the  liritish  troops,  except  those 
in  light  marching  order,  to  make  much  progress  through 
the  hea\"y  nnid. 

At  the  northern  part  of  the  town  some  little  earthworks 
had  been  hastily  thrown  up  at  a  ravine  which  led  clown  to 
the  Assunpink  Creek,  and  behind  them  four  guns  had  been 
placed.  Here  agam  the  retreating  Americans  made  another 
post   of    resistance,    and  the  Virginia   troops    distinguished 


themselves,  as  the  Pennsylvania  riflemen  had  done  for  sev- 
eral hours  previous.  It  was  now  nearly  four  o'clock  in  the 
afternoon,  and  General  Washington  rode  up  with  General 
Knox  to  encourage  the  troops  to  make  as  vigorous  a  defense 
as  possible.  General  Greene  also  came  up  with  a  reinforce- 
ment, and  he  immediately  assumed  command  of  the  entire 
force  at  this  point.  Captain  William  Hull  of  the  Seventh 
Connecticut  Continental  regiment  was  now  in  charge  of  the 

General  Washington  was  well  pleased  with  the  all-day 
running  fight,  and  begged  the  little  party  not  to  yield  until 
compelled  to.  A  battery  of  British  artillery  was  soon  after 
brought  into  position  and  made  every  effort  to  dislodge  the 
American  advance  force.  Nearly  an  hour  was  consumed 
before  the  patriot  band,  unable  any  longer  to  sustain  them- 
selves, began  again  to  yield  the  ground  and  retreat  down 
the  Brunswick  road  into  the  village,  having  captured  some 
twenty-five  or  thirty  men  during  the  day. 

In  this  way  the  last  determined  stand  beyond  the  town 
was  taken,  and  as  the  Americans  began  to  retreat,  the  ad- 
vance party  of  the  British,  about  1500  men,  again  com- 
menced their  march  in  strong  column,  the  main  army  being 
still  a  considerable  distance  in  the  rear.  The  advance  en- 
tered Trenton  at  the  head  of  King  and  Queen  streets,  at 
the  same  place  where  the  guns  of  Captains  Forrest  and 
Hamilton  had  opened  fire  on  Rail's  brigade  on  the  previous 
Thursday.  On  their  way  down  Queen  street  the  fire  from 
behind  houses  was  continuous  and  galling.  When  they 
reached  Tucker's  corner,  where  Queen  street  is  crossed  by 
Second  street,  they  first  began  to  receive  the  shots  from 
the  batteries  of  the  main  American  army  posted  on  the  high 
ground  on  the  south  side  of  the  Assunpink  Creek. 

General  Washington  had  drawn  up  his  army  in  line  of 
battle  for  nearly  three  miles  along  the  bank  of  this  stream, 
which  he  called  Mill  Creek,  with  the  left  on  the  Delaware 
River,  and  had  thrown  up  a  series  of  small  earthworks  on 
the  ridge  and  across  the  road  below  the  Queen  street  bridge. 



Back  of  this  line  of  battle  he  placed  a  second  line  consisting 
of  his  reserve  troops. 

General  Mercer  and  his  brigade  were  at  Phillips  Ford, 
fully  two  miles  above  the  bridge  at  Trenton  and  on  the 
extreme  right  of  the  army.  Below  him  was  General  Cad- 
walader's  command,  stationed  in  an  open  field  opposite  Sam- 
uel Henry's  mill,  somewhat  over  a  mile  from  the  bridge, 
while  General  St.  Clair's  brigade,  with  the  battery  of  Captain- 
Lieutenant  Sargent,  was  posted  on  the  high  bank  just  east 
of  the  bridge  across  the  creek. 

The  advance  guard  of  Cornwallis's  army  pressed  on  down 
Queen  street,  still  driving  the  Americans  slowly  before  them, 
and  killing  some,  until  they  arrived  at  the  narrow  stone  bridge 
which  spanned  with  but  one  arch  the  Assunpink  Creek.  This 
was  the  same  bridge  over  which  a  part  of  Rail's  brigade  had 
escaped  the  previous  week. 

The  commanding  officer  of  the  German  battalion  of  Gen- 
eral de  Fermoy's  brigade,  Colonel  Nicholas  Hausegger,  was 
taken  prisoner  on  Queen  street  before  the  Americans  came 
to  the  bridge.  The  capture  was  made  in  so  suspicious  a 
manner  that  Colonel  Hausegger' s  devotion  to  the  cause  of 
liberty  has  ever  since  been  doubted.  In  his  "  Memoirs," 
Captain  Alexander  Graydon  of  Colonel   John  Shee's   bat- 

1  Colonel  Trumbull  painted  this  picture  in  Philadelphia  in  1792,  and 
it  is  now  in  the  art  gallery  of  Yale  University.  The  artist  says  of  this 
painting  :  "  I  undertook  it  con  aniore  (as  the  commission  was  unlimited), 
meaning  to  give  his  military  character  in  the  most  sublime  moment  of 
its  exertion,  the  evening  previous  to  the  battle  of  Princeton,  when,  view- 
ing the  vast  superiority  of  his  approaching  enemy  and  the  impossibility 
of  again  crossing  the  Delaware  or  retreating  down  the  river,  he  con- 
ceives the  plan  of  returning  by  a  night  march  into  the  country  from 
which  he  had  just  been  driven,  thus  cutting  off  the  enemy's  communica- 
tion and  destroying  his  depot  of  stores  and  provisions  at  Brunswick.  I 
told  the  President  my  object :  he  entered  into  it  warmly,  and,  as  the 
work  advanced,  we  talked  of  the  scene,  its  dangers,  its  almost  despera- 
tion. He  looked  the  scene  again  and  I  happily  transferred  to  the  can- 
vas the  lofty  expression  of  his  animated  countenance,  the  high  resolve 
to  conquer  or  to  perish.  The  result  was,  in  my  own  opinion,  eminently 
successful  and  the  general  was  satisfied." 


talion  of  Pennsylvania  militia,  who  was  a  prisoner  in  New 
York  city,  thus  refers  to  this  man  :  — 

"  He  was  a  German,  or  rather  a  man  of  no  country  or  any 
country ;  a  citizen  of  the  world,  a  soldier  of  fortune,  and  a 
true  mercenary.  Thinking  that  our  cause  was  going  down 
rapidly,  he  saw  no  reason  for  adhering  any  longer  to  it ;  but 
came  over  to  the  enemy  in  the  season  of  our  extreme  adver- 
sity, though  he  did  not  reach  us  until  after  the  affairs  at 
Trenton  and  Princeton.  Not  liking  the  name  of  a  deserter, 
he  called  himself  a  prisoner,  but  certainly,  if  he  was  one,  he 
had  much  better  terms  than  we  had." 

Besides  the  column  of  British  troops  on  Queen  street,  a 
body  of  men  marched  down  King  street  in  great  haste,  ex- 
pecting to  prevent  the  passage  over  the  bridge.  They  opened 
fire  along  Front  street,  but  failed  to  prevent  the  Americans 
crossing  the  creek.  Here  the  detachment  of  skirmishers 
which  all  day  long  had  hovered  before  and  around  the  enemy, 
hastily,  although  with  difficulty,  crowded  through  the  passage 
at  the  bridge,  scarce  sixteen  feet  wide.  Colonel  Hitchcock's 
New  England  brigade  protected  these  weary  men  as  they 
filed  across  the  bridge  and  took  their  places  with  the  main 
army.  General  Washington  himself  was  on  horseback  at  one 
end  of  the  bridge,  overlooking  the  scene,  and  by  his  personal 
exposure  inspired  his  men  with  courage  and  confidence. 

It  was  then  after  five  o'clock  and  rapidly  growing  dark. 
The  British  line,  however,  pressed  on  to  the  bridge,  while 
for  about  ten  minutes  the  two  guns  of  Captain  Moulder's 
battery,  of  Captain  Forrest's  four-pounders,  and  of  the  naval 
guns  in  charge  of  Captain  Read,  with  the  musketry  of  some 
of  the  infantry  ranged  on  rising  ground  on  either  side  of  the 
bridge,  kept  rattling  into  their  ranks  with  uncertain  aim.  By 
the  light  made  by  the  firing  it  could  be  seen  that  the  advance 
of  the  king's  troops,  entirely  unaware  of  the  force  now  before 
them,  had  pressed  on  until  they  were  within  range  of  the 
American  guns.  They  made  three  fruitless  efforts  to  reach 
and  cross  the  bridge,  but  found  further  pursuit  checked,  and 
were  unable  to  endure  the  concentrated  fire.     The  effect  of 


this  fire  upon  them  is  extremely  uncertain  and  doubtless  will 
never  be  correctly  ascertained,  as  no  mention  of  loss  is  made 
in  any  British  official  reports.  It  can  hardly  have  been  very 
destructive  to  life,  although  several  statements  of  eye-wit- 
nesses made  the  carnage  severe,  when  we  take  into  account 
how  small  a  number  of  men  marching  in  single  column  could 
have  occupied  the  space  at  this  point,  that  this  was  the  ad- 
vance party  only,  and  that  the  darkness  certainly  made  the 
firing  very  inaccurate. 

In  his  interesting  work  on  "  The  Hessians  and  the  other 
German  Auxiliaries  of  Great  Britain  in  the  Revolutionary 
War,"  Edward  J.  Lowell  gives  the  Hessian  loss  during  the 
fighting  of  January  2  as  four  killed  and  eleven  wounded, 
principally  men  of  Colonel  von  Donop's  brigade.  One  of 
the  soldiers  mortally  wounded  had  been  the  commanding 
officer  of  the  yager  picket  post  on  the  River  road  on  the 
morning  after  Christmas,  and  had  escaped  early  in  that  fight. 
In  one  of  the  phases  of  the  skirmish  on  the  Shabbakonk 
Creek  six  American  riflemen  of  Hand's  regiment  jumped  out 
from  behind  a  bush,  with  guns  in  one  hand,  and  motioned 
and  called  to  the  Hessian  soldiers,  as  though  about  to  desert 
to  them.  Lieutenant  Friedrich  Wilhelm  von  Grothausen, 
with  some  others,  although  cautioned  by  Captain  Ewald,  ran 
out  about  fifty  steps  to  receive  the  surrender,  when  he  was 
deliberately  shot  in  the  breast.  He  died  a  few  days  after- 
ward in  Princeton. 

The  loss  of  the  American  army  was  small.  No  return 
seems  to  have  been  made  of  the  casualties.  A  brief  list  has 
been  compiled.  ^ 

1  Private  John  Goebel,  Captain  John  D.  Woelpper's  company,  Ger- 
man battalion,  killed.  Private  Jacob  Bottamer,  Captain  Peter  Boyer's 
company,  German  battalion,  badly  wounded.  Private  George  Filsin, 
Captain  William  Wilson's  company,  First  Pennsylvania  Continental 
regiment,  severely  wounded  in  left  leg.  Private  Wender  Fortney,  Ger- 
man battalion,  wounded.  There  is  a  tradition  among  the  descendants 
of  Captain  Richard  Clough  Anderson,  Fifth  Virginia  Continental  regi- 
ment, the  ofBcer  who  made  the  little  attack  on  the  Pennington  road 
picket  at  Trenton  on  Christmas  night  (p.  121,  ante\  that  he  was  also 


By  some  writers  this  affair  is  called  "  The  second  battle 
of  Trenton ; "  by  others  "  The  battle  of  the  Assunpink," 
while  students  of  the  revolutionary  period  sometimes  allude 
to  it  as  "the  cannonade  at  Trenton." 

General  Washington,  in  his  official  report,  the  text  of  which 
is  hereafter  given,  uses  the  following  language  in  reference  to 
the  action  of  the  enemy  in  the  village  :  "  After  some  skir- 
mishing the  head  of  their  column  reached  Trenton  about  four 
o'clock,  whilst  their  rear  was  as  far  back  as  Maidenhead. 
They  attempted  to  pass  Sampink  Creek,  which  runs  through 
Trenton,  at  different  places,  but,  finding  the  fords  guarded, 
they  halted  and  kindled  their  fires.  We  were  drawn  up  on 
the  other  side  of  the  creek.  In  this  situation  we  remained 
till  dark,  cannonading  the  enemy,  and  receiving  the  fire  of 
their  fieldpieces,  which  did  us  little  damage."  ^ 

While  this  was  taking  place.  Colonel  Hitchcock,  with  his 
Continental  brigade  of  Cadwalader's  division,  had  taken  posi- 
tion in  a  field  on  the  Bloomsbury  farm  between  the  bridge 
and  the  river,  and  had  thrown  up  a  temporary  breastwork. 
It  was  in  time,  fortunately,  for  a  determined  party,  princi- 
pally of  Hessians,  attempted  to  cross  the  creek  at  a  good 
fording-place,  probably  near  where  the  Warren  street  bridge 
now  is,  but  the  brave  New  England  Continentals  sent  a  rain 
of  lead  on  the  attacking  party,  and  they  quickly  abandoned 
the  project. 

At  this  place  on  the  bank  of  the  creek  a  clergyman  was 
cruelly   murdered.     The   Rev.    John    Rosbrugh,    pastor  of 

wounded  in  this  fight.  Captain  William  Moseley,  Seventh  Virginia 
Continental  regiment,  wounded.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Samuel  B.  Webb, 
aide-de-camp  to  General  Washington,  wounded. 

1  General  Knox  wrote  to  his  wife :  "  The  enemy  pushed  our  small 
party  through  the  town  with  vigour,  though  not  with  much  loss.  Their 
retreat  over  the  bridge  was  thoroughly  secured  by  the  artillery.  After 
they  had  retired  over  the  bridge,  they  advanced  within  reach  of  our 
cannon,  who  saluted  them  with  great  vociferation  and  some  execution." 
Captain  Thomas  Rodney  of  Delaware  says  :"  We  kept  possession  of 
the  bridge  altho'  the  enemy  attempted  several  times  to  carry  it  but  were 
repulsed  each  time  with  great  slaughter." 

HOW    CHAPLAIN    ROSIiRUGII    WAS    KILLED        267 


the  Allen's  Township  Presbyterian  Church,  Northampton 
County,  Pennsylvania,  and  chaplain  of  the  Third  battalion  (jf 
Northampton  County  militia,  had  been  taking  an  early  sup- 
per at  the  Blazing  Star  Tavern  kept  by  P'rancis  Witt  on  the 
corner  opposite  to  Abraham  Hunt's  store,  when  the  British 
ran  quickly  down  King  street.  The  patriot  chaplain,  who 
was  of  ScotchJrish  jDarentage,  and  sixt)--three  years  of  age, 
rushed  from  the  inn  on  hearing  the  alarm,  but  found  that  his 
horse  had  alread}'  been  stolen.  He  then  endeavored  to  reach 
the  American  lines  at  the  bridge,  trailing  in  this,  he  next 
tried  the  ford,  to  which  we  have  just  alluded,  where  he  was 
caught  by  a  party  of  Hessians.  Here,  while  praying  for  his 
captors,  he  was  bay(jneted  seventeen  times  and  cut  on  the 
head  with  many  sabre  slashes.  His  body  was  stripped  of  its 
clothing,  robbed  of  watch  and  gold.  The  I^ritish  officer  in 
command  of  the  j^art)'  boasted  of  the  deed  in  the  ta\"ern  a 
few  hours  later.  General  Courtlandt  Skinner,  who  com- 
manded the  New  Jersey  volunteers  in  the  royal  army,  highly 
applauded  the  perpetrator  of  the  act. 

It  was  now  nearly  six  o'clock  and  cjuite  dark,  and  further 
attempts  to  cross  the  creek  were  abandoned  until  the  main 


body  should  arrive  in  the  village  or  until  morning  should 
enable  them  to  see  the  force  they  were  expected  to  vanquish. 

The  American  artillery,  however,  still  kept  up  a  deter- 
mined fire,  throwing  shot  into  the  town  from  the  high  ground 
on  the  south  side  of  the  creek,  which  commanded  the  village. 
This  was  returned  by  the  British  light  batteries,  although 
without  effect.  It  is  said  that  balls  struck  the  building  on 
Ellet  Tucker's  corner,  and  that  other  cannon-shots  tore  away 
part  of  the  wall  of  the  jail,  now  the  Trenton  Bank.  This 
cannonade  was  kept  up  at  intervals  during  the  early  part  of 
the  evening.  As  General  Knox  writes,  "a  few  shells  we 
now  and  then  chucked  into  the  town  to  prevent  them  enjoy- 
ing their  new  quarters  securely."  Most  of  the  British,  how- 
ever, had  withdrawn  to  the  high  ground  on  the  Beakes  farm, 
at  the  upper  part  of  the  village,  out  of  the  range  of  these 
missiles,  although  during  the  evening  the  streets  were 
thronged  with  crowds  of  redcoats. 

It  will  always  appear  singular  that  the  invaders  did  not 
attempt  to  cross  the  creek  at  some  of  the  many  fording- 
places  on  the  east  of  the  town,  such  as  at  Henry's  Mill  or 
Phillips  Ford,  the  one  a  mile,  the  other  two  miles  above  the 
mill-dam  at  the  bridge.  It  was  impossible  for  General 
Washington  to  protect  the  whole  stream,  and  had  the  British 
forced  the  American  right  and  driven  them  toward  Trenton 
Ferry  and  the  river,  nothing  could  have  saved  the  entire 
army.  A  determined  advance  along  the  line  and  a  half 
hour's  fight  would  have  decided  the  battle.  The  American 
army  would  have  been  well-nigh  annihilated,  and  with  it  the 
fate  of  America  and  the  hopes  of  freemen. 

When  General  Cornwallis  reached  the  town,  he  held  a 
brief  Qonsuhation  with  his  general  officers,  and  Sir  William 
Erskine,  Baronet,  colonel  and  aide-de-camp  to  the  king,  but 
acting  as  the  quartermaster-general  of  the  army  in  New 
Jersey,  suggested  that  perhaps  the  "  old  fox "  might  escape 
in  the  night.  "If  Washington  is  the  general  I  take  him 
to  be,  his  army  will  not  be  found  there  in  the  morning." 
Major-General  Grant  agreed  with  Cornwallis  that  the  Amer- 


icans  were  without  means  of  retreat.  They  thought  they 
had  General  Washington's  army  safe  enough ;  their  troops 
were  very  weary,  and  they  could  without  difficulty  "bag 
him "  on  the  morrow  and  capture  his  whole  army.  The 
British  forces  then  built  their  fires,  and  settled  themselves 
for  a  quiet  night,  with  the  expectation  of  a  fight  at  an  early 
hour  on  the  next  day. 

Orders  were  immediately  sent  out  to  call  the  troops  at 
Princeton  and  Maidenhead  to  join  the  army  at  Trenton  as 
early  as  possible  on  the  next  morning.  General  Cornwallis 
failed,  however,  to  send  out  strong  scouting  parties  that 
night,  as  he  should  have  done,  to  ascertain  the  exact  position 
of  the  foe,  and  to  establish  proper  picket  lines  on  his  exposed 
flank.  It  was  said  by  Colonel  von  Donop  that  he  advised 
the  commanding  general  to  send  a  party  across  the  creek 
into  the  woods  on  the  American  right  wing  to  prevent  an 
attack  being  made  on  the  British  left  flank.  Fortunate, 
indeed,  for  General  Washington's  subsequent  plans  that 
Cornwallis  did  not  follow  the  advice  of  von  Donop. 

Another  of  those  fearful  crises  in  the  fate  of  America  had 
arrived,  a  time  similar  to  the  day  when  the  troops  of  the 
flying  camp  had  abandoned  the  army  at  Brunswick ;  or  to 
those  moments  of  suspense  as  the  night  was  passing  away 
and  the  day  was  near  at  hand  while  the  army  was  still  cross- 
ing the  river  for  the  surprise  at  Trenton  ;  or  that  critical 
time  but  forty-eight  hours  previous,  when  the  term  of  service 
of  a  large  part  of  the  Continental  line  had  expired.  It  was 
now  almost  impossible  to  retreat  across  the  river  with  so 
large  and  disciplined  an  army  close  upon  them.  To  leave 
the  bluff  of  the  Assunpink  Creek  and  fall  back  to  Borden- 
town,  and  so  southward  toward  Philadelphia,  would  be  certain 
annihilation ;  to  attack  the  enemy  on  the  morrow  and  to  risk 
the  fortune  of  a  battle  was  but  to  court  defeat  from  troops 
superior  in  numbers  and  better  skilled  in  the  art  of  war  ; 
to  remain  in  their  earthworks  until  morning  was  to  invite 
destruction  or  an  early  surrender.  The  American  army  was 
apparently  in  a  cul-de-sac. 



This  was  the  situation  when  General  Washington  called  a 
council  of  war  at  Alexander  Douglass's  house/  at  that  time 
Brigadier-General  St.  Clair's  headc|uarters.  Washington  had 
been  obliged  to  abandon  his  own  quarters,  at  the  tavern  of 
Jonathan  Richmond,  much  nearer  to  the  bridge,  because  it 
was  within  the  range  of  the  enemy's  cannon.  At  quarter- 
master Douglass's  hijuse  all  his  brigade  commanders  gathered, 
and  freely  discussed  the  alternative  of  attack  or  retreat  : 
whether  to  fight  their  troops,  many  of  whom  were  raw  and 


inexperienced,  against  the  powerful  column  so  near  them, 
or  to  fall  ra]iidly  down  the  Delaware  Ri\-er,  and  take  the 
chances  of  crossing  into  Pennsylvania.  At  last  a  plan  less 
hazardous  than  flight  or  battle  was  suggested  :  to  draw  off 

^  On  o;round  now  occupied  hv  the  German  Lutheran  Church  on 
Greene  .street.  The  DougLass  house  has  been  removed,  and  is  now 
Xo.  47S  Centre  street,  Trenton. 

15Y    THE    LEFT    FLANK    TO    LRL\CETON  271 

the  army  at  midnight,  and  by  a  raj^id  maixh  around  the  left 
tiank  ut  the  enemy,  avoiding  the  post  at  Maidenhead  held  liy 
Cieneral  Leslie,  strike  the  British  rear-guard  at  Princeton, 
some  twelve  miles  from  the  grand  army  of  the  enemy,  and, 
if  possible,  attack  the  post  and  capture  the  stores  at  Bruns- 
wick.     This    movement,    it    was   thought,   would   avoid  the 

:_>^l/v*  -  " 


:iimijnli  .s 

appearance  of  retreat,  and  would  not  injuriously  affect  the 
spirits  of  the  troops. 

This  flank  movement  of  the  American  army  was  a  brilliant 
conception  of  the  commander-in-chief.  It  is  stated  in  some 
histories  that  it  was  suggested  by  General  Mercer,  while 
other  writers  have  placed  it  to  the  credit  of  General  St. 
Clair.  Because  the  council  was  held  in  St.  Clair's  cpiarters 
is  no  reason  for  his  biographer  appropriating  the  result  of 
these  dehberations  as  the  fruit  of  his  great  forethought  and 
military  genius.  Neither  General  Mercer  nor  General  St. 
Clair  was,  it  is  to  be  supposed,  especially  familiar  with  this 
roundabout  route.  It  is  much  more  reasonable  to  attribute 
the  suggestion  to  General  Dickinson,  who  was  a  resident  of 



I  l'-i~.  ENhKAL    ART  hi:  I-; 

Trenton,  or  to  Colonel  Joseph  ]veed,  who  was  a  graduate  of 
Princeton  Colk-ge  and  whose  birthplace  was  Trenton.  Colo- 
nel Reed,  as  we  have  seen,  had  just  performed  a  brave  little 
exploit  near  I^rinceton,  with  some  men  of  the  Philadelphia 
truop  (if  light  horse,  and  in  going  and  returning  he  must 
of  necessit)'  have  jjassed  over  some  jjortion  of  this  very  road. 
His  report  to  the  commander-in-chief,  on  whose  staff  he 
serA-ed,  must  ha\-e  gi\'en  General  Washington  all  the  neces- 
sary information  as  to  this  circuitous  route  to  Princeton.  It 
is  certain  that  the  gix-at  chieftain  knew  what  he  was  about, 
and  did  not  deliberately  juit  himself  in  a  trap  that  day,  and 




then  despairingly  ask  his  general  officers  to  get  hinr  out  of 
it.  Nor  can  it  be  supposed  that  tieneral  Washington  left  it 
until  cle\-en  o'clock  at  night  before  he  at  least  thought  of 
what  orders  he  must  gi\'e  six  hours  thereafter.^ 

While  the  council  of  war,  which  he  had  called  at 
Douglass  house,  was  still  in  session, 
there  occurred,  as  Washington  said, 
"a  pro\'idential  change  of  weather," 
The  mildness  which  had  so  retarded 
the  march  of  Lord  Cornwallis's  force 
that  day  was  suddenly  succeeded  by 
a  cold  northwest  wind  which  froze 
the  ground  in  a  few  hours.  Here, 
then,  was  an  opportunity  to  march  an 
army  over  hard  roads  and  move  the 
forty  guns,  which  could  hardly  have 
been  accomplished  over  a  muddy 

It  is  said  that  during  the  evening 
Patrick  Lamb,  who  lived  near  the 
Quaker  bridge  over  the  Assunpink 
Creek,  and  possibly  kept  the  tavern  there,  Ezekiel  Ander- 
son, who  Ih-ed  in  a  direct  line  somewhat  more  than  a  mile 
northeast  of  the  bridge  (the  house  is  now  occupied  by  Wil- 
liam S.  Morris),  and  Elias  Phillips  of  Maidenhead  were 
called  into  the  council   room,  where,  being  well  accjuainted 

1  This  subject  I  have  discussed  at  some  length  in  a  paper  entitled 
"The  Princeton  Surprise,"  published  in  The  Magazine  of  Ainerican 
History.  August,  1SS2.  The  opinion  there  expressed  is  fully  confirmed 
by  a  letter  written  by  private  John  Lardner  of  the  Philadelphia  troop 
of  light  horse  to  Captain  John  R.  C.  Smith,  then  commandant  of  the 
troop.  This  letter  is  dated  July  31,  1S24,  and  is  now  on  file  in  the 
archives  of  that  organization.  It  is  elsewhere  given  in  full.  If  privates 
John  Lardner,  George  Campbell  and  James  Caldwell  were  posted  on 
this  road  near  the  Quaker  bridge  on  the  evening  of  January  i,  1777,  to 
give  notice  of  the  movements  of  the  British  forces,  of  course  Colonel 
Reed,  as  adjutant-general  of  the  army,  was  aware  of  the  fact,  and  knew 
the  direction  of  the  road,  as  did  General  Washington.  (For  letter  see 
Part  ii.  No.  89.) 

-AT    THE    COUNCIL    OF    WAR 


with  the  road  which  General  Washington  desired  to  take, 
they  were  intrusted  with  the  duty  of  guiding  the  army. 

As  soon  as  the  plan  of  operations  was  decided,  the  order 
was  issued,  and  in  the  darkness  the  troops  began  quietly  to 
make  ready  for  the  flank  movement.  On  the  high  ground 
by  the  creek  a  number  of  camp-fires  were  burning,  and  these 
were  carefully  replenished  with  cedar  rails,  the  neighboring 
fences  furnishing  the  fuel.  A  strong  fatigue  party  was 
directed  to  throw  up  additional  earthworks  by  the  old  mill 
and  to  strengthen  those  at  the  lower  ford,  in  order,  if  pos- 
sible, to  keep  the  enemy  under  the  delusion  that  the  men 
were  still  there  preparing  for  the  battle  in  the  morning.  The 
noise  of  the  tools,  the  voices  of  the  fatigue  parties,  the  axe- 
blows,  and  the  throwing  up  of  the  frozen  earth  could  be  dis- 
tinctly heard  by  the  British  pickets  only  one  hundred  and 
fifty  yards  distant.  The  lines  of  camp-fires  could  also  be 
seen  burning  fiercely,  the  very  flame  concealing  everything 
beyond ;  and  the  guards  at  the  bridge  and  the  upper  fords, 
being  greatly  strengthened,  kept  pacing  to  and  fro  until 
near  morning. 

Soon  after  midnight  three  of  the  heaviest  pieces  of  ord- 
nance and  all  the  baggage  and  stores  of  the  army  not  spe- 
cially needed  were  sent  to  Burlington  by  way  of  Bordentown, 
under  a  strong  guard  commanded  by  General  Stephen. 
They  reached  Burlington  about  noon  on  January  3.  On 
January  8  this  wagon-train  was  ordered  to  proceed  to  Mor- 
ristown,  and  the  following  day  it  passed  through  Trenton, 
reaching  Morristown  January  12,  guarded  by  detachments 
of  the  militia  of  Cumberland  and  Chester  counties,  Pennsyl- 
vania, and  of  New  Castle,  Delaware.  The  Philadelphia  bat- 
talions of  Associators,  under  a  very  injudicious  order,  had 
packed  their  blankets  with  their  baggage,  which  for  ten  days 
caused  them  much  unnecessary  suffering.  Instructions 
were  also  sent  to  General  Putnam  to  co-operate.^ 

At  the  last  moment  Washington  gave  orders  to  keep  up 
the  fires  until  morning,  when  the  fatigue  party  left  in  charge 
1  Part  ii.  No.  86. 


of  them,  with  those  at  work  or  on  guard  at  the  bridge  and 
the  fords  above  and  below  it,  in  all  about  400  men,  should 
push  on  as  quickly  as  possible  to  join  their  marching  regi- 

Some  of  the  American  officers,  who  had  retired  to  farm- 
houses somewhat  to  the  rear,  to  enjoy  a  much  needed  rest, 
knew  nothing  of  this  movement,  and  the  next  day  had  some 
difficulty  in  reaching  their  commands  after  the  battle  of 

An  advance  party,  under  command  of  Major  Isaac  Sher- 
man of  Connecticut,  of  the  Twenty-sixth  regiment,  Conti- 
nental foot,  a  Massachusetts  regiment,  led  the  American 
column,  and  Brigadier-General  Hugh  Mercer  and  his  brigade 
followed  closely  behind  them.  The  main  army  started  for 
Princeton  about  one  o'clock  in  the  morning  of  January  3  by 
way  of  the  Sand  Town  road.  General  St.  Clair's  brigade, 
with  two  six-pounders,  followed  Mercer's  command,  and 
General  Washington  and  his  staff  accompanied  them. 

With  the  greatest  care  and  with  death-like  silence,  the 
army  moved  back  by  small  detachments  from  the  warm  fires 
on  the  banks  of  the  creek.  The  orders  were  given  in  a 
low  tone.  The  rims  of  the  wheels  of  the  gun  carriages  were 
wrapped  in  old  cloths,  that  no  sound  might  betray  their  night 
movement  to  the  British  guards.  The  army  passed  on  the 
left  flank  of  the  British,  marching  by  way  of  the  Sand  Town 
road,  or  very  near  what  is  now  called  Hamilton  avenue, 
leading  out  of  Trenton  as  far  as  Pond  Run.  From  this 
point  the  route  led  toward  the  little  village  of  four  or  five 
log  housed,  then  called  Sand  Town.  Most  accounts  of  this 
flank  movement  tell  us  that  the  column  passed  through 
this  little  village ;  the  cross-road  by  which  the  village  was 
avoided  having  long  since  been  closed  up,  it  is  quite  natural 
that  historians  were  led  into  this  error.  A  short  distance 
west  of  what  is  now  known  as  the  residence  of  the  late 
Charles  V.  Meade,  General  Washington's  army  left  the  Sand 
Town  road,  and  marched  over  to  the  crossing  on  Miry  or 
Muddy  Run,  leaving  Sand  Town  several  hundred  yards  to 

2-r,     THE    1:!ATTLKS    OF    TRKNTOX    AND    PRINCETON 

:>UAKER    ivIEETING    (IL>L^E,    .sTmN\     liK(^i.)K 

the  right.  1^'or  nearly  forty  years  after  this  cross-road  was 
used  In'  the  American  army,  it  was  in  daily  use  ;  but  since 
then,  like  many  other  old  roads  not  formally  surveyed  and 
deeded  to  the  use  of  the  public,  it  has  been  closed  up  by  the 
owners  of  the  land.^ 

The  road  led  tlirough  heavy  woods  ;  but  here  and  there 
the  trees  had  been  cut,  and  the  stumps  interfered  with 
travel.  As  John  Rowland,  one  of  the  soldiers  of  Captain 
IJa\'id  Dexter's  company  of  Colonel  Christopher  Lippitt's 
Rhode  island  State  )-egiment,  in  his  "Spirit  of  1776,"  says, 
"these  trees  stopped  the  mox'ement  of  some  of  the  guns,  and 
caused  many  a  fall  and   se\'ere  biaiise  to  some  of  the  over- 

■  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Mui;he.s,  now  decea.sed,  who  hved  on  the  Quaker 
bridge  road,  Mr.  William  11.  West  and  Mr.  William  C.  Vannest,  aged 
people  of  the  t()wnship,  fully  x'erily  the  existence  of  this  road  and  cer- 
tify to  the  tradition,  common  among  the  people  wlien  the\-  were  voung, 
that  this  cross-road  was  used  by  Washington  and  his  army  on  their 
midnight  march  to  Princeton. 

A    \VEARY    WAY 


weary,  sleepy  soldiers."  This  road  came  to  an  end  near 
what  is  now  the  mill-pond,  and  the  army  then  marched  on 
in  the  road  leading  north  from  Sand  Town  to  the  (  Hiaker 
bridge.  The  Aluddy  Run  was  crossed  just  west  of  the  mill 
that  now  stands  on  the  bank  of  this  stream,  and  the  march 
of  the  army  continued  through  a  large  tract  of  land  then 
called  "  The  Barrens,"  covered  with  oaks  of  stunted  growth. 
j\Iuch  of  this  land  is  to-clay  in  an  excellent  state  <if  culti\'a- 
tion.  The  "Bear  Swamp"  lay  just  to  the  west  of  "The 
Barrens,"  and  its  soil  is  now  \'er)'  much  what  its  name  im- 
plies. After  passing  through  the  wood  tract,  the  I'oad 
merged  into  the  Quaker  road,  a  highway  used  by  the  Friends 
in  traveling  between  Crosswicks  and  Stony  Brook  Meeting 
House.  A  short  distance  be)-ond  the  junction  of  the  two 
roads,  the  army  crossed  Quaker  bridge  at  the  same  place 
where  that  bridge  now  crosses  the  upper  waters  of  the 
Assunpink  Creek,      l^eyond  this  bridge  the  road  was  much 



as  it  is  tn-(Ui)",  though  perhaps  not  so  straight,  and  over  it 
the  patriot  army  marcliecl  toward  Stony  Brook.  Wlien  they 
at  last  reached  this  place,  some  two  miles  tVom  the  village 
of  I'rincetnii,  it  was  about  da\-]ight,  and  General  Mercer's 
brigade,  at  that  time  marching  in  files,  without  flankers, 
passed  along  a  stiip  of  woods  near  the  (j]d  Quaker  Meeting 
House,  still   standing,  and  thence  alor^g  the  upper  bank  of 

aDGE    0\'ER    STOX^'    BROOK 

tlie  creek  toward  the  Strmy  ISrook  bridge.  It  was  General 
IMeixer's  intention  innnediately  to  seciu'e  this  stone  bridge 
at  Worth's  (now  liruere's)  mill,  so  that  if  Lord  CornwaUis 
pursued  them  he  miglit  be  detained  thei'e  for  some  time. 
General  Sulli\"an  with  three  brigades  was  ordered  to  take  a 
road  somewhat  to  the  right  and  southeast  of  the  woods,  that 
the}-  might  enter  Princeton  on  the  east  side  of  the  ^-illage, 
b)-  a  ]jath  oi'  wood  road  at  that  time  little  used  and  \-ery 
different  from  the  road  of  to-day. 

Before  dawn  on  this  cold,  frosty  morning  of  January  3, 
1777,  two  regiments  of  the  P'ourth  brigade,  the  Seventeenth 
and  the  Pdfty-fifth  regiments  of  the  ]-5ritish  line,  refreshed 
bv  the  slumber  of  the  night  and  the  mornino-  meal,  left 
Princeton,  according  to  orders  given  the  previous  night,  to 
































■^    -D 


Q-    i^  "O 

en    — ,  c 

O    ^  t 

Z     5  H- 

z  o 

>,  « 

Q-  o 


unite  with  General  Leslie  at  Maidenhead,  and  then  push  on  to 
the  main  army  of  Lord  Cornwallis.  The  Fortieth  regiment 
of  this  brigade  had  been  ordered  to  remain  in  Princeton  to 
guard  the  stores.  The  Seventeenth  regiment  and  a  part  of 
the  Fifty-fifth  regiment  had  crossed  the  Stony  Brook  bridge, 
and  were  passing  over  Millett's  Hill,  having  taken  the  old 
road  to  Trenton.  The  remainder  of  the, Fifty-fifth  regiment 
was  following  only  a  short  distance  behind. 

General  Mercer's  troops  this  day  consisted  virtually  of  the 
same  regiments  he  had  commanded  in  the  streets  of  Tren- 
ton the  week  previous,  with  some  of  the  men  of  Lord  Stir- 
ling's brigade  added  thereto.  His  force  was  about  350  cold, 
hungry  and  weary  men,  and  it  was  followed  by  General 
Cadwalader's  brigade  of  Philadelphia  Associators.  As  they 
came  out  of  the  woods  and  marched  quickly  toward  the 
bridge,  they  were  seen  from  the  hill  near  Cochran's  house 
by  Lieutenant-Colonel  Charles  Mawhood  of  his  majesty's 
Seventeenth  regiment  of  foot,  the  acting  brigade  commander. 
Colonel  Mawhood  rode  that  day  a  small  brown  pony,  and  two 
favorite  spaniels  bounded  about  in  front  of  him.  Without 
any  idea  of  the  army  so  near  him,  after  sending  out  two 
mounted  officers  to  reconnoitre  he  faced  about  his  own  regi- 
ment, somewhat  more  than  300  men,  and,  joined  by  a  small 
party  of  the  Fifty-fifth  regiment,  under  Captain  John  Taylor 
Trevor,  and  a  troop  of  the  Sixteenth  regiment  of  light  dra- 
goons, commanded  by  Captain  Thomas  Trewren,  quickly 
ran  down  the  hill,  recrossed  the  bridge,  and  made  a  bold 
dash  for  an  orchard  on  a  piece  of  rising  ground  and  the  pro- 
tection which  would  be  afforded  by  a  hedge  fence  and  some 
farm  buildings  east  of  the  present  turnpike  and  near  William 
Clark's  house. 

Seeing  this  movement)  the  American  advance  party  under 
General  Mercer,  who  was  mounted  on  horseback,  with  Colo- 
nel Haslet  on  foot  and  his  Delaware  men  on  the  right,  tried 
the  same  thing.  They  rushed  through  a  gate  into  a  thick 
orchard,  reached  the  coveted  position  first,  and,  finding  the 
enemy,  in  about  equal  numbers,  forming  in  line  of  battle  with 

A    RACE    FOR   l'(.)SITION 


two  cannon  in  an  open  field  just  outside  the  orchard,  instantly 
discharged  a  voile)'  at  them.  The  firing  was  Cjuickly  returned 
b)'  the  l-Sritish,  who  were  only  about  one  hundred  and  twcnt)' 
feet  distant,  and  without  a  moment's  dela)-  they  jnrshed  raj)- 
iilly  forward  on  a  charge.     Cajitain  Daniel  Neil  of  New  Jer- 



\          ' 


m                j^<^ 



V**     , 




-—             i 

^  "■"  "r''\  ^  '  ■ 

se\',  commanding  the  eastern  company  of  artiller)',  brought 
two  of  his  guns  into  position,  and  threw  some  shot  into  the 
ranks  of  the  enemy's  right  wing,  where  it  did  great  execu- 
tion. Still  the  ba)'onets  of  the  British  and  their  terrible 
charge  could  not  be  withstood  by  the  Americans,  who  had 
only  their  old  rifles  and  muskets,  few  of  which  had  the  bayo- 
net.     It  was   difficult,  indeed,  for  these  men  to  stand  their 


ground  against  British  foot  armed  with  the  weapon  for  close 
quarters,  and  knowing  well  how  to  use  it.  After  firing  three 
volleys  within  five  minutes,  — and  Major  Wilkinson  says  the 
smoke  from  these  discharges  rose  "in  one  beautiful  cloud,"  — 
the  line  of  General  Mercer's  brigade  abandoned  its  position, 
broke  and  ran  in  utter  confusion.  Captain  Neil  here  lost 
his  battery  and  his  life.  Colonel  John  Haslet  of  the  Dela- 
ware Continental  regiment  was  mortally  wounded,  a  bullet 
entering  his  brain.  General  Mercer  had  his  splendid  gray 
horse  shot  from  under  him,  a  bullet  injuring  its  foreleg;  but 
although  on  foot,  he  immediately  endeavored  to  rally  his 
men.     This  he  found  impossible  to  accomplish. 

At  this  moment  General  Mercer,  standing  about  fifty  yards 
from  the  barn  of  Joseph  Clark,  was  struck  with  the  breech 
of  a  musket,  which  injured  him  severely.  A  surtout  over- 
coat concealing  his  rank,  the  British  thought  they  had  taken 
General  Washington,  and  called  out  for  the  "rebel  general" 
to  surrender.  With  reckless  courage,  being  somewhat  indig- 
nant at  being  called  a  rebel,  he  tried  to  strike  his  assailants 
with  his  sword,  but  was  overwhelmed,  beaten  down  and 
pierced  with  seven  bayonet  wounds  in  his  body,  in  addition 
to  the  two  wounds  on  his  head.  Then,  as  he  feigned  death, 
the  British  left  him.  He  fell  at  the  moment  of  defeat,  but 
five  minutes  later  he  heard  the  welcome  shout  of  his  victori- 
ous comrades. 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Mawhood  and  his  men  pursued  the 
disorganized  brigade  to  the  top  of  a  ridge  near  William 
Clark's  house.  Here  he  espied  General  Washington,  who 
had  heard  the  firing,  hurrying  up  on  the  left  to  the  aid  of 
Mercer's  men,  with  Hitchcock's  New  England  brigade  and 
Cadwalader's  Philadelphia  battalions  of  Associators,  which 
were  the  troops  nearest  to  the  scene  of  action. 

Just  beyond  a  strip  of  woods  General  Washington,  who 
up  to  this  time  had  remained  with  General  St.  Clair's  bri- 
gade of  Sullivan's  division,  noticed  the  disorderly  rout  of 
Mercer's  brigade  and  the  eager  pursuit  by  the  enemy  to  the 
crest  of  the  hill.    Without  a  moment's  hesitation  he  exposed 



himself  to  a  terrible  fire  in  tlie  very  front  of  his  men,  and 
urged  them  to  hold  their  ground  steadily.  It  was  a  difficult 
task  for  the  new  troops,  but  the  New  England  Continentals 


maintained  their  position  well,  and  the  bra\'e  but  feeble  Colo- 
nel Hitehcock  spoke  cheering  words  to  the  Pennsylvania 
men  near  him.  The  commander-in-chief  then  tried  to  rally 
Mercer's  shattered  force  once  more,  and  this  he  effected  in 
a  measure.     The  division  of  General  Mifflin  now  came  into 

2S4     THE    ];ATTLE.S    of    TREXTOX    and    I'RIXCETOX 

positirin  on  the  riL;iit  "f  Cadwaladcr's  troops,  and  an  ad\'ance 
was  (irdcrcd  along  the  line.  Colonel  Hand's  regiment  of 
riflemen  also  made  a  demonstration  against  Mawhood's  left, 
and  being  followed  qnickly  b}-  the  brigade  of  General  St. 
Clair,  they  snceeeded  in  dri\ingback  the  J'dfty-frfth  regiment, 
whieli  was  endeax'Oidng  to  join  the  small  ])Ortion  of  that  regi- 
ment fighting  ^\-ith  the  Seventeenth  foot. 

Captain  Josejih  Aloulder's  battery,  stationed  at  the  right 
of  Thomas  Clark's  hijuse,  now  tlie  residence  of  Henrv  I{. 
Male,  again  did  good  ser\-ice.  For  some  reason  the  liritisb 
artillery  was  badly  ser\'ed,  failing  to  get  the  range  of  this 
new  opposing  force,  and  every  time  firing  over  their  heads. 

;e.\ek.\l  .mekcek  s  sword 

Captain   ^.loulder's  youthful  gunners,  however,  made  every 
shot  tell  as  they  mowed  down  the  ranks  ni  the  redcoats. 

The  king's  troops  stopped  for  a  moment  in  their  hot  chase 
of  the  fugiti\"es  as  they  noticed  the  colimm  near  them,  and 
Cc)lonel  Mawhood  quickly  reformed  his  men,  took  post  by  a 
fence  near  the  farm  buildings,  and  then  made  a  dash  fur 
Moulder's  batter\-,  Captain  William  Scott  of  the  Seventeenth 
regiment  of  foot  leading  the  assault.  Caj)tain  John  Fleming, 
commanding  the  First  \'irginia  regiment,  called  out,  as  he 
tried  to  get  his  men  into  ]"iosition,  "  Gentlemen,  dress  the  line 
bef(jre  }'oa  make  ready,"  and  the  British  troopjs  replied,  with 
curses,  "We  will  dress  you."  Although  Captain  Fleming 
received  his  death  wound,  the  attemijt  failed,  and,  staggered 
by  the  shower  of  grapeshot,  the  hhatish  were  themselves 
dri\-en  back  with  much  slaughter.  The  coui'age  shown  by 
the  British  compelled  General  Washington's  admiration,  as 
he  noticed  how  they  f(jught.  The  tire  of  the  Americans  was 
so  sharp  that  a  general  officer,  writing  fr(.>m  Trenton,  Janu- 


ary  9,-  says  that  "  the  British  screamed  as  if  so  many  devils 
had  got  hold  of  them."  With  a  shout  the  Americans  pushed 
rapidly  forward  in  order  of  battle.  It  was  now  Colonel  Maw- 
hood's  turn  to  retreat.  He  quickly  turned  his  column,  found 
his  brigade  broken,  and  fell  back,  abandoning  his  guns  to  the 
patriots,  as  the  troop  of  the  Queen's  light  horse  endeavored 
to  cover  his  retreat. 


The  Continental  army  pursued  and  routed  the  enemy 
completely,  killing  large  numbers,  taking  many  prisoners, 
and  collecting  a  large  amount  of  baggage  which  had  been 
dropped  in  their  flight.  The  greater  part  of  the  Seventeenth 
regiment,  chased  by  the  Philadelphia  troop  of  light  horse, 
fled  toward  Maidenhead,  or  went  up  the  brook  and  across 
the  fields  in  the  direction  of  Pennington,  while  the  Fifty- 
fifth  regiment  ran  back  toward  Princeton,  where  the  Fortieth 
regiment  was  stationed.  In  this  fine  "  fox  chase,"  as  Wash- 
ington called  it,  some  fifty  English  soldiers  were  captured 
and  later  carried  into  Pennsylvania,  where  they  were  placed 
in  charge  of  General  Lord  Stirling.  The  battle  was  really 
over  ;  a  fight  of  scarcely  fifteen  minutes,  but  terribly  severe 
in  its  results. 

The  sight  of  the  great  chieftain  placing  himself  in  such 
peril  between  the  two  armies  at  the  turning  point  of  the  con- 
flict lent  new  courage  to  the  weary  troops,  and  they  promptly 
came  up  to  the  work.  This  voluntary  exposure  seemed 
dreadful  to  Washington's  gallant  aide,  Lieutenant-Colonel 
John  Fitzgerald,  who,  expecting  every  moment  to  see  a  bul- 
let pierce  the  heart  of  his  commander,  endeavored  to  avoid 
the  appalling  sight.  A  moment  later  the  shout  which  greeted 
Washington's  brave  act,  the  heavy  firing  and  the  eager  ad- 
vance of  the  men  startled  the  worried  aide-de-camp,  and  he 
looked  up  but  to  see  the  general  coming  forth  uninjured 
from  the  smoke  of  battle  and  to  hear  himself  calmly  addressed 
in  an  order,  "Bring  up  the  troops.  Colonel  Fitzgerald;  the 
day  is  our  own  1  " 

An  officer  of  the  Continental  line,  writing  from  Morristown 
a  few  days  after  this  gallant  but  hazardous  exploit,  used  these 
words,  "  Our  army  love  the  general  very  much,  but  they  have 

I  I 




one  thing;  ag;ainst  him,  which  is  the  Httle  care  he  takes  of 
himself  in  any  action."  ^ 

Immediately  after  the  iight  General  Washington  dis- 
patched a  strong  detachment,  under  Major  John  Kelly  of 
Colonel  James  Potter's  battalion  of  Northumberland  County, 
Pennsylvania,  militia,  to  break  down  the  Stony  Brook  bridge, 
in  order  to  delay  the  advance  of  the  British  army. 

In  the  fog  of  the  early  morning  of  January  3  Lord  Corn- 
wallis  was  suddenly  aroused  to  receive  the  unpleasant  in- 
formation that  the  entire  American  army  had  stolen  away 
from  the  bank  of  the  Assunpink  Creek.  Bitterly  did  he 
lament  the  way  in  which  he  had  been  so  completely  out- 
generaled   by  the    American    chieftain,    and    he    was    over- 

1  The  diary  (now  in  mv  posses.sion)  of  Tliomas  Olden,  wlio  lived  in 
the  house  now  the  lodge  of  Drumthwacket,  states  that  (General  Wash- 
ington, riding  up  to  his  door,  directed  several  of  the  wounded  Ijritish 
regulars  to  be  cared  for  by  his  family.  The  diary  also  says  that  twenty 
wounded  men  Avere  carried  into  William  Clark's  house,  and  several 
more,  with  the  gallant  Mercer,  to  Thomas  Clark's  house.  At  least  si.xty 
wounded  soldiers  were  placed  in  wagons  and  taken  into  the  village  of 


whelmed  with  mortification  at  the  loss  of  what  appeared  to 
him  an  opportunity  of  destroying  the  rebel  horde. 

The  camp-fires  were  still  smouldering,  but  the  foe  had  dis- 
appeared by  the  very  mode  suggested  at  the  council  of  waf 
the  night  before.  Lord  Cornwallis  thought  of  the  seventy 
thousand  pounds  in  the  money-chest  and  the  great  amount 


of  Stores  at  Brunswick,  and  he  quickly  divined  General  Wash- 
ington's intention.  Hastily  forming  his  troops,  he  commenced 
a  forced  march  toward  Princeton,  hurrying  on,  as  General 
Knox  writes,  "  in  a  most  infernal  sweat  —  running,  puffing 
and  blowing  and  swearing  at  being  so  outwitted."  About 
eight  o'clock  he  heard  the  booming  of  the  guns  before  him, 
and  General  Sir  William  Erskine  quickly  interpreted  the 
meaning  of  those  reports  of  distant  artillery,  as  they  reached 
his  ear  on  that  sharp  winter  morning. 

It  was  the  advance  guard  of  this  army,  that  part  of  the 
rear-guard  of  the  previous  day,  under  General  Leslie's  com- 
mand, which,  looking  down  from  a  hill  a  short  distance  to 
the  south,  saw  the  Americans  under  Major  Kelly  demolish- 
ing the  Stony  Brook  bridge.  Already  they  had  made  such 
progress  that  it  would  have  been  impossible  for  the  army 
to  have  crossed  over  it.     The  redcoats  were  ordered  to  ford 



the  stream,  which  they  quickly  did,  and  with  icy  clothes 
pressed  on  toward  Princeton.  The  gallant  major,  who  had 
tarried  too  long  in  destroying  the  bridge,  tell  from  a  broken 
log  into  the  stream,  but,  although  covered  with  wet  and 
frozen  clothing,  he  yet  secured  an  armed  scout  of  the 
British  army,  and  brought  him  safel)'  into  the  American 

While  these  events  were  taking  place,  the  P'ifty-fifth  regi- 
ment, joining  the  Fortieth  regiment,  which  had  mustered  on 
the   college  grounds,  endeavt)red  to  hold  a  position  on  the 

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north  side  of  a  ravine  just  (jn  the  outskirts  of  the  village,  on 
what  was  then  Richard  Stockton's  farm.  Up  to  this  time 
the  Fortieth  regiment  had  taken  no  part  in  the  engagement, 
as  they  were  not  included  in  the  marching  order  for  Trenton, 
although  they  had  been  apprised  of  the  conflict  at  the  Stony 
Brook  bridge  by  a  messenger  from  Colonel  Mawhood.    Before 


these  two  regiments  had  fully  arranged  themselves  in  order 
of  battle,  the  right  wing  of  the  Americans,  General  Sullivan 
in  command,  with  the  brigade  of  Colonel  Sargent  in  the  ad- 
vance, dashed  fiercely  upon  them,  and  soon  scattered  them. 
A  part  of  the  Fortieth  regiment  still  remained  in  their  stone 
barracks  within  the  walls  of  Nassau  Hall.  Captain  Hamil- 
ton's light  battery  was  then  run  up  on  the  campus,  and  a 
warning  six-pound  shot  was  sent  into  the  building.  Tradi- 
tion says  the  ball  entered  the  front  of  the  chapel,  now  the 
Geological  Museum,  and  singular  to  relate  passed  through 
the  head  of  the  portrait  of  King  George  the  Second.  The 
frame  of  this  picture  is  still  in  the  college  museum,  and  now 
contains  a  portrait  of  Washington,  painted  by  the  elder  Peale, 
by  order  of  the  authorities  of  the  college.  The  battery  must 
have  fired  a  second  time,  as  Major  James  Wilkinson  says  in 
his  "Memoirs"  that  a  ball  struck  the  college  building,  and 
rebounding  nearly  killed  the  horse  on  which  he  was  riding. 
The  impression  made  by  this  shot  is  still  to  be  seen  on  the 
walls  of  Old  Nassau. 

A  party  of  Americans  commanded  by  Captain  James 
Moore  of  the  First  regiment,  Middlesex  County,  New  Jersey, 
militia,  then  entered  the  college,  which  by  this  time  was 
surrounded  with  troops  ;  and  the  British  therein,  194  in 
number,  including  several  wounded  dragoons,  quickly  gave 
themselves  up  prisoners  of  war. 

The  remainder  of  the  Fifty-fifth  and  Fortieth  regiments, 
about  200  in  number,  finding  that  they  were  beaten  at 
every  point  and  that  further  resistance  was  useless,  as  the 
Americans  were  closely  pursuing  them,  abandoning  two  six- 
pounders,  all  the  horses  thereto  being  killed,  and  the  axle 
broken  of  one  of  the  carriages,  retreated  northward  by  the 
king's  highway,  or,  as  General  Howe  reported,  "retired  by 
way  of  Hillsborough  to  Brunswick,"  and  there  joined  the 
Forty-sixth  British  regiment  in  quarters.  On  the  way  thither 
about  fifty  more  of  the  British  were  captured  by  the  victo- 
rious Americans. 

The  vanguard  of  Lord    Cornwallis's   army  was   pressing 



into  one  end  of  the  village  about  noon  as  the  left  of  General 
Washington's  column  passed  northward  out  of  sight  of 
Princeton.  The  redcoats  were  destined  to  have  still  another 
check  to  their  eager  march.     An  iron  thirty-two-pounder  had 


been  mounted  on  the  arrow-head-shaped  earthworks,  which 
Colonel  von  Donop's  men  had  thrown  up,  on  ground  lately 
owned  by  the  Reverend  Dr.  John  Miller.  This  gun  General 
Washington  could  not  carry  away  for  want  of  horses  ;  and  as 
the  British  column  approached,  some  straggling  soldier  fired 
it  off.  This  halted  the  advance  for  some  time  until  they 
could  throw  out  their  skirmishers  and  ascertain  the  number 
and  disposition  of  the  opposing  force.  A  full  hour  was 
lost  by  this  movement,  and  when  after  reconnoitring  they 
reached  the  earthworks,  they  found  the  place  deserted.  By 
that  time  General  Washington  was  far  away  with  the  tro- 
phies of  his  second  victory. 


The  loss  of  the  American  army  in  this  battle  was  about 
forty  killed  and  wounded,  including  several  valuable  officers. 
Besides  the  mortal  wounds  received  by  Brigadier-General 
Hugh  Mercer  and  the  deaths  on  the  battlefield  of  Colonel 
John  Haslet,!  Captain  John  Fleming  and  Captain  Daniel 
Neil,  we  may  add  the  names  of  Captain  William  Shippin, 
Lieutenant  Bartholomew  Yeates  and  Ensign  Anthony  Mor- 
ris, Jr.,  —  seven  officers  killed.  Second  Lieutenant  John 
Read,  Fourth  regiment,  Virginia  Continental  line,  was  se- 
verely wounded,  and  died  January  25,  1777.^ 

The  British  loss  in  the  battle  of  Princeton  was  about  400 
kihed,  wounded  and  prisoners,  one  fourth  of  whom  were 
left  dead  upon  the  field.  Fourteen  officers  and  216  men  in 
arms,  with  some  dismounted  troopers  and  stragglers  from 
various  regiments,  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  Americans. 
Among  the  officers  captured  was  Lieutenant  Ernst  Friedrich 
Wilhelm  von  Donop  of  the  Hessian  yagers,  adjutant  of  Colo- 
nel von  Donop's  corps.  He  was  found  sick  in  Princeton. 
Captain  Robert  Mostyn  and  Lieutenant  Frederick  Desagu- 

1  For  biographical  sketches  of  these  ofEcers  see  Part  ii.  No.  97. 

2  But  few  records  can  be  given  of  the  casualties  among  the  en- 
listed men  of  the  American  army.  This  much  is  known :  Sergeant 
George  Buyer,  First  Pennsylvania  regiment,  wounded  in  the  shoulder. 
Sergeant  Michael  Welsh,  of  Captain  Harman  Stout's  company,  Tenth 
Pennsylvania  regiment,  severely  wounded  in  the  left  knee.  Private 
Anthony  Dache,  Philadelphia  battalion  of  Associators,  wounded  in  the 
thigh.  Private  Benjamin  Schlaugh,  First  Pennsylvania  regiment,  badly 
wounded  and  leg  amputated.  Private  John  Downs,  Philadelphia  bat- 
talion of  Associators,  wounded  in  the  leg.  Private  Patrick  Lusk  of 
Captain  John  Murray's  company,  Colonel  Samuel  Miles,  Pennsylvania 
rifle  regiment,  wounded,  in'the  right  wrist.  Private  Isaiah  Beaumont, 
Twentieth  regiment.  Continental  foot,  Colonel  John  Durkee,  wounded 
in  arm. 

Major  John  Armstrong,  aide-de-camp  to  General  Mercer,  wounded ; 
Major  WilUam  Smith  Livingston,  aide-de-camp  to  General  Greene, 
wounded ;  Major  Lewis  Morris,  Jr.,  aide-de-camp  to  General  Sullivan, 
wounded;  Second  Lieutenant  John  Read,  Fourth  Virginia  Continental 
regiment,  wounded,  and  died  January  25,  1777 ;  First  Lieutenant  Dudley 
Tyler,  Sixth  Massachusetts  Continental  regiment,  wounded. 



liers  were  killed  and  Captain  John  IMcPherson  and  Captain 
the  Hon.  William  Leslie  fatally  wounded. ^ 

General  Howe  sent  the  following  report  of  the  battle  to 
Lord  George  Germain,  colonial  secretary  of  state  : "  — 

New  York  January  5  1777 
Mv  Lord  : 

fn  consequence  of  the  advantage  gained  by  the  enemy  at 
Trenton  on  the  26th  of  last  month  and  the  necessity  of  an 


alteration  in  the  cantonments,  Lord  Cornwallis  deferring 
his  going  to  England  by  this  opportunity,  went  from  thence 
to  Jersey  on  the  ist  inst.  and  reached  Prince  Town  that 
night,  to  which  place  General  Grant  had  advanced  with  a 
body   of    troops    from    Brunswick  and    Hillsborough,   upon 

1  For  biographical  slcetches  of  these  officers  see  Part  ii.  No.  98. 

2  For  return  of  casualties  see  Part  ii.  No.  99. 




gaining  intelligence  that  the  enemy  on  receiving  reinforce- 
ments from  Virginia,  Maryland  and  from  the  Militia  of 
Pennsylvania  had  repassed  the  Delaware  into  Jersey.  On 
the  2d  Lord  Cornwallis  having  received  accounts  of  the 
rebel  arm)'  being  posted  at  Trenton,  advanced  thither,  leav- 
ing the  4th  brigade  under  the  command  of  Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel Mawhood  at  Prince  Town  and  the  2d  brigade  with  Brig- 
adier-General Leslie  at  Maidenhead.  On  the  approach  of 
the  Piitish  troops  the  enemy's  forward  posts  were  drawn 
back  upon  their  army,  which  was  formed  in  a  strong  position, 
behind  a  creek  running  through  Trenton.  During  the  night 
of  the  2d  the  enemy  quitted  this  situation  and  marching  up 
by  Allen's  Town  and  from  thence  to  Prince  Town  fell  in  on 
the  morning  of  the  3d  with  the  17th  and  55th  Regiments  on 
their  march  to  join  Brigadier-General  Leslie  at  Maidenhead. 
Lieutenant-Colonel  Mawhood  not  being  apprehensive  of  the 
enemy's  strength,  attacked  and  beat  back  the  troops  that 
first  presented  themsel\-es  to  him,  but  finding  them  at  length 



very  superior  to  him  in  numbers  lie  pushed  forward  with  the 
17th  Regiment  and  joined  Brigadier-General  Lcshe.  The 
55th  Regiment  retired  by  the  way  of  Hillsborough  to  Bruns- 
wick and  the  enemy  proceeding  immediately  to  Prince  Town, 
the  40th  Regulars  also  retired  to  Brunswick.  The  loss  on 
this  occasion  to  his  Majesty's  troops  is  seventeen  killed  and 
nearly  two  hundred  wounded  and  missing.  Captain  Leslie 
of  the  i/th  was  among  the  few  killed  and  for  further  particu- 
lars I  beg  leave  to  refer  your  Lordship  to  the  enclosed  re- 
turn. Captain  Phillips  of  the  35th  Grenadiers,  returning 
from  hence  to  join  his  Company  was  on  this  day  beset,  be- 
tween Brunswick  and  Prince  Town  by  some  lurking  villains 
who  murdered  him  in  a  most  barbarous  manner,  which  is  a 
mode  of  war  the  enemy  seem,  from  several  late  instances  to 
have  adopted  with  a  degree  of  barbarity  that  savages  could 
not  exceed.  It  has  not  yet  come  to  my  knowledge  how 
much  the  enemy  has  suffered,  but  it  is  certain  there  were 










] ' 




'  ^H 

1    ,.,mfi^i 









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many  killed  and  wounded  and  among  the  former  a  General 
Mercer  from  Virginia.  The  bravery  and  conduct  of  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Mawhood  and  the  behaviour  of  the  regiments 
under  his  command,  particularly  the  17th  are  highly  com- 
mended by  Lord  CornwaUis.  His  Lordship  finding  the 
enemy  had  made  this  movement  and  having  heard  the  fire 
made  by  Colonel  Mawhood's  attack,  returned  immediately 
from  Trenton  ;  but  the  enemy  being  some  hours  march  in 
front,  and  keeping  this  advantage  by  an  immediate  departure 
from  Prince  Town,  retreated  by  King's  Town,  breaking  down 
the  bridge  behind  them  and  crossed  the  Millstone  River 
at  a  bridge  under  Rocky  Hill,  to  throw  themselves  into  a 
strong  country.  Lord  CornwaUis  seeing  it  would  not  an- 
swer any  purpose  to  continue  his  pursuit,  returned  with  his 
whole  force  to  Brunswick  and  the  troops  upon  the  right 
being  assembled  at  Elizabeth  Town.  Major  General  Vaughn 
held  that  command. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be  &c. 

W.  Howe. 

General  Howe  also  issued  a  general  order  commending 
Lieutenant-Colonel  Mawhood  and  his  command.^ 

General  Mercer,  suffering  intensely  with  the  cold  and 
his  terrible  wounds,  was  carried  off  the  field  of  battle  by  his 
aide,  Major  John  Armstrong,  formerly  attached  to  the  staff 
of  Major-General  Gates.  He  was  taken  to  Thomas  Clark's 
house,  which  is  still  standing,  and  the  Quakeress  Sarah  Clark, 
her  sister  Hannah  Clark  and  a  faithful  negro  woman  care- 
fully attended  to  poor  General  Mercer.  Dr.  Moses  Scott, 
at  this  time  surgeon  of  the  Second  regiment,  Middlesex 
County,  New  Jersey,  militia,  afterward  hospital  physician  and 
surgeon  Continental  army,  had  examined  General  Mercer's 
wounds  as  he  lay  upon  the  field.  After  being  conveyed  to 
the  house  referred  to,  the  noise  of  the  British  as  they  crossed 
at  Stony  Brook  reached  his  ears,  and  he  peremptorily  or- 
dered the  reluctant  Armstrong,  the  son  of  his  old  commander 
^   Part  ii.  No.  100. 


in  the  Indian  campaigns,  to  leave  him  and  follow  the  patriot 
army,  which  needed  the  services  of  every  man.  When  the 
British  came  into  the  house,  they  gave  Mercer  his  parole  and 
left  him.  Soon  after  two  good  neighbors,  Thomas  Olden 
and  Samuel  Worth,  came  in  to  assist  the  Quaker  family  in 
taking  care  of  the  wounded  general.  On  the  4th  of  Janu- 
ary General  Washington,  hearing  that  he  was  still  alive, 
and  not  killed  as  reported,  sent  under  flag  of  truce  Dr.  Rush 
and  Captain  George  Lewis,  who  commanded  a  detachment 
of  light  horse  at  his  own  headquarters,  with  a  communication 
to  Lord  Cornwallis  asking  permission  for  them  to  remain 
and  attend  to  Mercer.  It  was  granted,  and  January  7  the 
doctor  reported  him  much  better,  saying  that  he  expected 
his  speedy  recovery.  A  surgeon  on  Lord  Cornwallis's  staff 
agreed  that  he  did  not  think  the  wounds  dangerous,  but  Gen- 
eral Mercer,  who  was  by  profession  a  physician,  called  the 
attention  of  Captain  Lewis  to  a  bayonet  wound,  the  smallest 
one,  under  his  right  arm,  which  he  said  would  surely  cause 
his  death.  And  so  it  resulted.  His  wounds  must  have  bled 
profusely,  for  the  blood  passed  through  the  bed  and  stained 
the  floor,  where  the  marks  can  be  seen  even  to  this  day. 
He  lingered  on  in  much  pain  until  the  morning  of  Sunday, 
January  12,  and  then  expired  in  the  arms  of  his  devoted 
companion.  Captain  Lewis.  His  remains  were  taken  to  Phil- 
adelphia and  buried  in  Christ  Churchyard  January  16,  1777. 
The  funeral  was  attended  by  "  The  Council  of  Safety,  Mem- 
bers of  Assembly,  Gentlemen'  of  the  Army  and  a  number  of 
the  most  respectable  inhabitants  of  the  City."  On  Novem- 
ber 26,  1840,  he  was  reint erred  in  Laurel  Hill  Cemetery, 
Philadelphia,  with  military  honors.^ 

As  General  Washington  passed  out  of  Princeton,  he  ex- 
pressed his  gratification  to  Colonel  Daniel  Hitchcock  at  the 
noble  conduct  of  himself  and  his  brigade.  Colonel  Hitch- 
cock had  behaved  most  gallantly  in  this  his  last  effort  for 
the  cause  of  his  country.  Educated  at  Yale  College,  grad- 
uating in  the  Class  of  1761,  receiving  his  degree  of  Master 
1  For  notes  on  General  Mercer,  see  Part  ii.  No.  loi. 


of  Arts  from  both  Yale  College  and  Brown  University  in 
1 77 1,  he  was  "  an  accomplished  gentleman  "  and  a  "  fine  offi- 
cer," as  his  soldiers  said,  as  well  as  a  true  born  son  of  liberty. 
He  went  into  the  army  with  the  first  Rhode  Island  contin- 
gent, called  "the  army  of  observation,"  at  the  beginning  of 
the  war,  and  at  this  time  was  acting  as  a  brigadier-general 
of  what  was  familiarly  known  as  the  New  England  brigade. 
Speaking  of  the  affair  at  the  Assunpink  bridge  at  Trenton 
and  the  battle  of  Princeton,  the  celebrated  Dr.  Benjamin  Rush 
wrote  to  Richard  Henry  Lee,  the  Virginia  statesman,  January 
6,  1777  :  "  Much  credit  is  due  to  a  brigade  of  New  England 
men  commanded  by  Col.  Hitchcock  in  both  actions ;  they 
sustained  a  heavy  fire  from  musketry  and  artillery  for  a  long 
time  without  moving ;  they  are  entitled  to  a  great  share  of 
the  honour  acquired  by  our  arms  at  Princetown."  The  good 
sword  of  Colonel  Hitchcock  won  him  great  honor,  and  his 
disposition  made  him  beloved  by  his  soldiers,  and  admired  by 
all  who  knew  him.  He  was  a  fine  scholar,  of  refined  taste 
and  elegant  manners,  in  fact,  a  finished  gentleman.  Con- 
sumption was  even  then  rapidly  bringing  his  life  to  a  close, 
and  when  he  reached  Morristown  he  was  called  upon  to  die. 
On  January  10,  1777,  he  made  a  brief  nuncupative  will,  the 
full  text  of  which  is  given  in  Cowell's  "Spirit  of  1776  in 
Rhode  Island."  He  died  January  13,  and  was  buried  with 
military  honors  on  the  afternoon  of  the  14th  of  January  in 
the  churchyard  of  the  Presbyterian  Church,  Reverend  Dr. 
Timothy  Johnes,  at  Morristown,  —  ground  which  became  the 
last  resting-place  of  many  patriots. 

In  addition  to  the  prisoners  taken  by  the  American  army 
at  the  battle  of  Princeton,  they  also  secured  two  brass  six- 
pounders,  a  large  amount  of  ammunition,  a  quantity  of  mili- 
tary stores,  and  some  clothing  and  camp  equipage  loaded  in 
wagons.  A  large  amount  of  forage  which  had  been  gathered 
there  by  the  British  army  was  destroyed  because  the  victors 
could  not  transport  it.  General  Miffiin  also  recaptured  some 
seven  wagon-loads  of  stores  which  the  British  had  plundered 
from  the  citizens  of  Princeton  and  were  endeavoring  to  carry 
off  with  them. 



After  remaining  in  Princeton  about  two  hours  and  douig 
full  justice  to  the  breakfast  prepared  for  the  officers  of  the 
Fortieth  regiment,  at  their  headquarters,  Tusculum,  the  resi- 
dence of  President  Witherspoon,  and  after  paroling  fifty-six 


wounded  and  sick  British  soldiers  whom  he  was  obliged  to 
lea\'e  there,  General  Washington  followed  after  the  two  regi- 
ments of  flying  redcoats  until  they  passed  the  village  of 
Kingston,  Captain  Moulder's  battery  covering  the  rear  of  the 
patriot  army.  Captain  Moulder  was  instructed  to  fire  at  the 
advance  guard  of  the  British  army,  if  necessary,  until  the  last 
moment,  then  spike  his  guns  and  run  rapidly  to  join  the  main 


army.  His  men  obeyed  the  first  part  of  the  order,  but  when 
the  critical  moment  arrived,  instead  of  leaving  the  cannon 
which  had  done  such  good  service  that  day,  they  pulled  them 
away  with  them  with  the  aid  of  ropes.  A  troop  of  British 
cavalry  followed  them  some  distance,  but  were  checked  in 
their  pursuit  by  seeing  Captain  Morris's  Philadelphia  troop  of 
light  horse  forming  on  the  road  to  cover  the  retreat  of  the 
gunners  and  to  sustain  the  expected  attack.  The  British 
thereupon  faced  about  and  returned  to  Lord  Cornwalhs's 

General  Washington  ordered  the  destruction  of  the  bridge 
over  the  Millstone  Creek,  which  was  immediately  accom- 
plished. Without  dismounting  he  then  held  a  council  of 
war  with  his  general  officers  as  to  their  future  movements. 
Some  advised  marching  toward  Coryell's  Ferry,  and  recross- 
ing  the  Delaware  River.  It  was  soon  very  prudently  decided, 
however,  that  they  should  abandon  the  prize  at  Brunswick, 
and,  turning  short  to  the  left  by  Rocky  Hill,  march  by 
Somerset  Court  House  and  Pluckemin  toward  Morristown. 

For  two  nights  and  a  day  they  had  had  no  sleep,  and  many 
of  them  had  carried  their  arms  without  intermission  for  nearly 
forty  hours  on  the  march  and  in  battle.  To  forego,  then, 
the  capture  of  Brunswick  was  unfortunate ;  but  when  they 
reflected  that  Lord  Cornwallis  had  troops  which  had  enjoyed 
rest  at  Maidenhead  and  Trenton  the  previous  night,  while 
many  of  the  Americans  were  constantly  falling  asleep  by  the 
roadside,  regardless  of  the  proximity  of  the  enemy  or  of  the 
intense  cold,  and  that  the  longed-for  military  chest  was  full 
eighteen  miles  away,  they  concluded  that  it  was  dangerous  to 
venture  the  loss  of  their  prisoners  and  trophies  by  attempt- 
ing a  task  in  which  they  might  possibly  fail.  General  Wash- 
ington declared  that  if  he  had  had  but  800  fresh  troops,  he 
could  have  made  a  forced  march,  destroyed  their  stores  and 
magazines,  taken  their  money-chest,  and  possibly  have  put 
an  end  to  the  war.i 

About  eleven  o'clock  in  the  evening  the  last  of  the  army 
^  For  Washington's  OfBcial  Report  to  Congress  see  Part  ii.  No.  102, 



arrived  at  Somerset  Court  House,  now  Millstone,  Somerset 
County,  placed  their  prisoners  in  the  county  jail,  and  quickly 
disposed  themselves  for  the  night,  some  of  the  men  actually 
sleeping  on  the  frozen  ground,  without  a  blanket,  in  the  field 
on  which  the  manse  of  the  Ref(jrmed  Church  of  Rfillstone 
now  stands.  General  Washington  and  his  staff  were  quar- 
tered at  the  house  of  John  Van  Doren,  some  little  distance 
south  of  the  town.      This  house  is  still  standing. 

The  British  general  was  too  an.xiijus  as  to  the  fate  of 
Brunswick  and  the  line  of  communication  with  New  York  to 
follow  General  Washington  and  his  army  far  into  the  hill 
country  ;  and  not  knowing  whether  the  American  genei'al  had 
sent  a  force  to  capture  his  stores,  he  pushed  rapidl)'  forward 
on  the  king's  highway,  paying  no  attention  to  the  weary 
American  army. 

In  this  condition  of  affairs  a  striking  event  occurred  be- 
tween a  number  of  British  soldiers  and  a  ca\'alry  detachment 
of  the  New  Jersey  State  troops.     The  affair,  as  related  in 


a  recent  work,^  a  book  full  of  stirring  revolutionary  facts,  is 
historically  correct. 

"  Another  interesting  incident  was  the  arrival  in  camp  of 
the  gallant  Captain  John  Stryker's  troop  of  Somerset  horse, 
laden  with  spoils  from  the  enemy.  Cornwallis  in  his  hurried 
march  toward  New  Brunswick  was  so  unfortunate  as  to  dis- 
able a  number  of  his  baggage-wagons.  He  left  them  at  the 
side  of  the  road  in  charge  of  a  quartermaster  with  a  guard  of 
two  hundred  men.  Captain  Stryker,  though  having  with 
him  but  twenty  troopers,  resolved  upon  the  capture  of  these 
stores.  In  the  darkness  of  night  he  distributed  his  small 
force  in  a  circle,  completely  surrounding  the  camp.  The 
guard  were  suddenly  astounded  by  a  volley  of  musket-shots 
and  the  whistling  of  bullets,  while  from  under  the  black  arches 
of  the  bordering  trees  came  loud  and  repeated  shouts  as  if 
from  a  countless  host.  Demoralized  by  recent  defeats  the 
men  incontinently  fled,  thinking  that  they  had  been  attacked 
by  a  large  force  of  the  Americans.  Their  fright  was  not  so 
much  caused  by  the  roar  of  musketry  as  by  the  unearthly 
yells  of  the  lusty  troopers  which  so  suddenly  broke  the  still- 
ness of  the  night.  Captain  Stryker  was  not  long  in  so  repair- 
ing the  wagons  that  they  could  be  hauled  to  a  place  of  safety ; 
he  lost  no  time  in  making  his  way  to  Washington's  camp 
with  his  treasures.  The  joy  of  the  troops  was  unbounded 
when  it  was  discovered  that  the  wagons  contained  woolen 
clothing,  of  which  the  men  stood  in  sore  need." 

The  patriotic  bard  of  the  revolutionary  period,  Philip  Fre- 
nau,  said  of  this  hasty  march  of  the  British  army  with  its 
Hessian  allies  :  — 

"  From  dire  Cesarae  !  forced,  these  slaves  of  Kings 
Quick,  let  them  take  their  way  on  eagle's  wings  ; 
To  thy  strong  posts,  Manhattan's  isle,  repair, 
To  meet  the  vengeance  that  awaits  them  there !  " 

'  The  Story  of  an  Old  Farm,  or  Life  in  New  fersey  in  the  Eight- 
eenth Century,  by  Andrew  D.  Mellick,  Jr.,  Somerville,  New  Jersey,, 
1889,  p.  387. 


Lord  Cornwallis  reached  Brunswick  about  six  o'clock 
in  the  morning  of  January  4,  and  found  the  post  command- 
ant, Brigadier-General  Edward  Mathew,  greatly  excited. 
General  Mathew  had  with  him  the  First  and  Second  battal- 
ions of  the  British  guards,  and  the  Forty-sixth  regiment  of 
British  foot,  which  had  reached  him  only  the  previous  day. 
During  the  night  of  January  3,  soldiers  had  come  in  with 
exaggerated  reports  of  the  fight,  a  sick  captain  of  the  Forty- 
ninth  regiment  having  been  the  first  to  communicate  the 
unwelcome  intelligence.  The  captive  American  General 
Charles  Lee  had  been  already  dispatched  across  the  Raritan 
River,  and  General  Mathew  had  gathered  up  his  supplies  in 
readiness  for  a  retreat,  preparing  to  make  only  such  a  de- 
fense as  would  enable  him  to  escape  with  the  army  treasure. 

General  Washington  and  his  army  left  Somerset  Court 
House  on  January  4,  and,  marching  over  the  hills,  halted  for 
two  days  at  Pluckemin,^  in  order  to  rest  his  men  and  to 
allow  nearly  1000  weary  stragglers  to  overtake  them.  On 
January  6  he  left  Pluckemin  and  marched  into  the  highlands 
of  Morris  County.  He  established  the  headquarters  of  the 
army,  January  7,  1777,  at  Morristown,  in  the  old  Freeman 
Tavern  on  the  northwest  side  of  the  public  square,  then  kept 
by  Captain  Jacob  Arnold.  The  troops,  after  a  few  days 
spent  in  tents  on  the  slopes  of  the  Lowantica  valley,  built 
substantial  huts  for  their  use  during  the  rest  of  the  winter 
about  a  quarter  of  a  mile  south  of  what  is  now  Madison, 
then  called  Bottle  Hill,  on  the  main  road  to  Morristown. 
Securely  protected  in  this  cantonment,  the  recruiting  and 
reorganizing  of  the  army  for  the  spring  campaign  began, 
under  the  powers  which  had  been  conferred  upon  General 
^  See  Washington  to  Putnam,  Part  ii.  No.  103. 


Washington  by  the  Continental  Congress.      The  army  re- 
mained there  until  May  28,  1777. 

Horace  Walpole  wrote  to  Sir  Horace  Mann  concerning 
this  march  from  Trenton  to  Morristown  :  "  Washington  the 
dictator  has  shown  himself  both  a  Fabius  and  a  Camillas. 
His  march  through  our  lines  is  allowed  to  have  been  a  pro- 
digy of  generalship." 

This  closed  the  winter  campaign  of  I'/'jS-iy'/y.  Philadel- 
phia had  been  saved  the  ravages  of  the  Hessian  hordes,  and 
the  Hessians  themselves  had  been  compelled  to  march  as 
captives  through  its  streets  ;  the  British  had  been  driven  out 
of  the  State,  except  at  the  posts  of  Brunswick  and  Amboy, 
and  an  army  complete  in  all  its  appointments  had  been  com- 
pelled to  assume  the  defensive.  In  the  most  gloomy  period 
of  the  war  the  great  commander  by  "  two  lucky  strokes  " 
had  saved  the  cause  of  the  Revolution.  This  was  the  "  Good 
news  from  the  Jerseys  "  which  animated  every  patriot  in  the 

Let  us  seek  a  solution  to  the  question  how  soon  Colonels 
Rail  and  von  Donop  would  have  placed  their  troops  on  the 
west  bank  of  the  Delaware  River  had  General  Washington 
abandoned  the  project  of  crossing  the  river  on  Christmas 
night.  As  has  been  said,  the  weather  changed  on  the  night 
of  January  2,  1777,  and  became  intensely  cold.  This  cold 
continued,  for  we  are  told  that  the  men  marching  toward 
Morristown  on  January  4  and  5  suffered  greatly  from  it. 
We  quote  the  following  from  the  diary  of  Margaret  Morris 
of  Burlington:  "January  9th,  weather  very  cold,  the  river 
filled  with  ice  and  we  expect  it  will  be  strong  enough  to 
walk  over  in  a  day  or  two."  "January  nth  weather  very 
cold  and  the  river  quite  shut."  "January  15th  the  hearse 
with  General  Mercer's  body  was  conveyed  over  the  river  on 
the  ice."  It  is  clear,  then,  that  if  General  Washington  had 
postponed  crossing  over  the  river  in  boats  for  just  seventeen 
days,  the  Hessian  troops  would  have  walked  over  on  the 
"bridge  of  ice,"  for  which  they  had  waited,  and  a  few  hours 
thereafter  the  city  of  Philadelphia  would  have  been  in  the 

i     \ 

THE   TURN    OF    THE    TIDE    OF   WAR  305 

possession  and  subject  to  the  pillage  of  the  German  merce- 
nary troops.  A  delay  of  less  than  three  weeks  by  General 
Washington,  in  order  to  reanimate  his  demoralized  force, 
would  have  endangered  the  fate  of  the  union  of  the  States. 

The  effect  upon  the  people  of  New  Jersey  and  indeed 
upon  the  entire  nation  can  hardly  be  described.  To  have 
taken  a  demoralized,  retreating  and  well-nigh  disbanded  army 
and  to  have  crossed  and  recrossed  a  large  river  four  times 
in  wintry  weather,  performed  such  brilliant  and  daring  ex- 
ploits and  inflicted  a  succession  of  such  effective  blows 
upon  a  splendid  army  seemed  well-nigh  incredible.  The 
entire  winter  campaign  had  exhibited  great  generalship  in  the 
commander-in-chief  and  had  proved  that  he  possessed  such 
a  knowledge  of  military  science  that  he  was  able  promptly 
to  foresee  the  exact  moment  when  the  stroke  must  fall, 
and  to  risk  everything  in  the  stern  exigency.  The  friends 
of  the  young  republic  in  and  out  of  Congress  took  new 
heart  and  made  vigorous  efforts  to  strengthen  the  power  of 
the  great  commander.  The  New  Jersey  militia,  which  for 
three  months  had  been  to  some  extent  subdued  by  the  pre- 
sence and  power  of  the  king's  troops,  now  seemed  imbued 
with  new  vigor,  and  began  rapidly  to  enroll  and  fit  them- 
selves for  the  soldier's  life  and  duties.  For  the  rest  of  the 
winter  the  militia  collected  information  and  tracked  out 
foraging  detachments  of  British  and  captured  them.  The 
cruelty  and  violence  of  the  Hessian  hirelings  aroused  a  desire 
for  revenge,  and  few  opportunities  were  lost  when  the  foe 
left  their  well-guarded  stations.  The  tide  of  war,  formerly 
so  strongly  against  the  patriot  cause,  now  began  to  turn,  and 
with  the  ebb  carried  away  from  New  Jersey  soil  the  defeated 
royal  army  of  Great  Britain.  The  people,  heretofore  panic- 
stricken,  were  now  convinced  that  the  dreaded  Hessians 
and  the  British  redcoats  could  be  vanquished  by  their  own 
untrained  but  determined  soldiers.  They  believed  a  f\nal 
victory  was  near  at  hand,  and  that  these  successes  were  the 
dawn  of  a  bright  morning  for  the  young  republic.  They 
were  persuaded  the  great  generals  whose  military  genius  and 


experience  had  been  highly  lauded  could  be  outgeneraled 
by  their  Washington  and  could  be  beaten  in  detail  by  the 
division  of  the  young  New  Hampshire  attorney,  the  battal- 
ions of  the  Rhode  Island  blacksmith,  or  the  guns  directed 
by  the  bookseller  of  Boston. 

Never  was  Washington  more  popular  than  at  this  moment 
of  victory.  The  coniidence  of  the  ofificers  who  gathered 
around  him,  and  whom  he  had  learned  to  appreciate  as  com- 
panions in  a  common  danger,  was  strengthened.  The  whole 
country  looked  to  him  as  the  sure  champion  of  a  free  gov- 
ernment. He  felt  strong  enough  to  demand  that  those 
"  who  had  accepted  the  British  protection  should  withdraw 
within  the  enemy's  lines  or  take  the  oath  of  allegiance  to 
the  United  States  of  America."  ^ 

Washington's  own  opinion  of  his  success  can  be  best  de- 
scribed in  the  vigorous  order  sent  Major-General  Benjamin 
Lincoln,  at  Peekskill  on  the  Hudson,  and  dated  January  7, 
1777:  "Move  down  your  troops  towards  New  York,  draw 
the  attention  of  the  enemy  to  that  quarter,  and  if  they  do 
not  throw  a  considerable  body  back  again,  you  may  in  all 
probability  carry  the  city,  or  at  least  blockade  them  in  it.  I 
have  only  to  beg  of  you  to  be  as  expeditious  as  possible  in 
moving  forward,  for  the  sooner  a  panic-struck  enemy  is  fol- 
lowed the  better.  If  we  can  oblige  them  to  evacuate  Jersey 
we  must  drive  them  to  the  utmost  distress."  ^ 

The  late  Dr.  Benson  J.  Lossing,  in  his  sketch  of  Wash- 
ington's mother,  says  :  "  When  the  cheering  news  of  the 
victories  of  Trenton  and  Princeton  reached  Fredericksburg, 
several  of  her  friends  congratulated  her  upon  the  brilliant 
achievements  of  her  son.  She  simply  replied,  '  George  seems 
to  have  deserved  well  of  his  country ; '  and  when  some  of 
them  read  paragraphs  of  letters  they  had  received,  in  which 
the  skill  and  bravery  of  Washington  were  applauded,  she 
said,  '  Gentlemen,  here  is  too  much  flattery ;  still,  George 

'  Part  ii.  No.  113. 

2  For  other  comments  on  the  battle  of  Princeton,  see  Part  ii.  Nos. 
104,  105,  106,  107,  108,  109,  no,  III,  112,  114,  115,  116. 


will  not  forget  the  lessons  I  have  taught  him  —  he  will  not 
forget  himself,  though  he  is  an  object  of  so  much  praise.'  " 

True  it  is  that  that  period  of  trial,  those  long  days  of  disas- 
ter and  retreat,  those  hours  of  acute  suffering  as  the  forlorn, 
dejected  troops  fled  from  the  great  harbor  on  the  seaboard 
to  the  bank  of  the  icy  river,  were  but  lessons  given  to  the 
despondent  patriots  by  Him  who  was  so  soon  to  nerve  their 
hearts  to  noble  exploits,  to  steady  their  eye  along  the  old 
firelocks,  and  strengthen  the  arm  that  held  the  bayonet,  that 
in  the  end  they  might  give  utterance  to  the  shouts  of  well- 
earned  victory. 

Surely  nowhere  in  the  life  struggle  of  any  nation  can  be 
shown  such  a  rapid  contrast  from  almost  total  defeat  to 
brilliant  victory  as  appears  in  this  simple  compilation  of 
facts  which  has  come  down  to  us  bearing  the  unmistakable 
marks  of  truth  through  the  century  of  our  existence  as  a 
nation  —  the  retreat  through  the  Jerseys,  and  the  battles  of 
Trenton  and  Princeton,  or  what  has  been  well  called,  "  those 
wonderful  days  in  New  Jersey." 


No.   I.    American  Army  in  the  Campaign,  1776-1777. 
Brigadier-General  Lord  Stirling's  Brigade  (lOOO  officers  and  men). 

Colonel  George  Weedon's  Third  regiment,  Virginia  Continental 

Colonel  John  Haslet's  Delaware  regiment,  Continental  infantry. 
Colonel    Isaac    Reade's    First    regiment,  Virginia    Continental 

Major  Ennion  Williams's  First  Pennsylvania  rifle  regiment. 

Brigadier-General  Adam  Stephen^ s  Brigade  {600  officers  and  meii). 

Colonel  Thomas  Elliott's  Fourth  regiment,  Virginia  Continental 

Colonel  Charles  Scott's  Fifth  regiment,  Virginia  Continental  in- 

Colonel  Mordecai  Buckner's  Sixth  regiment,  Virginia  Continental 

Colonel  Edward  Hand's  Brigade  (600  officers  and  men). 

Colonel  Edward  Hand's  First  regiment.  Continental  foot — Penn- 
sylvania rifle  regiment. 

Colonel  Henry  Haller's  Berks  County  militia,  Pennsylvania  flying 

Colonel  James  Cunningham's  Lancaster  County  militia,  Penn- 
sylvania flying  camp. 

Brigadier-Getieral  James  Swing's  Brigade  (600  officers  and  men). 

Colonel  William  Montgomery's  regiment,  Pennsylvania  militia, 
flying  camp. 

Colonel  Frederick  Watts's  regiment,  Pennsylvania  militia,  flying 

Colonel  Richard  McAllister's  regiment,  Pennsylvania  militia,  fly- 
ing camp. 


Colonel  Jacob  Klotz's  regiment,  Pennsylvania  militia,  flying  camp. 
Colonel   James    Moore's    regiment,  Pennsylvania   militia,  flying 

Brigadier-General  A^athaniel Heard's  Brigade  (800  officers  and  me/i). 

Colonel  Philip  Van  Cortland's  regiment.  New  Jersey  militia. 
Colonel  David  Forman's  regiment,  New  Jersey  militia. 
Colonel  Ephraim  Martin's  regiment.  New  Jersey  militia. 
Colonel  Joseph  Phillips's  regiment,  New  Jersey  militia. 
Colonel  Silas  Newcomb's  regiment.  New  Jersey  militia. 

Brigadier-General  Rezin  Beall's  Brigade  {1200  officers  and  meji). 

Colonel  Charles  G.  Griffith's  First  battalion,  Maryland  militia, 
flying  camp. 

Colonel  Josiah  C.  Hall's  Second  battalion,  Maryland  militia,  fly- 
ing camp. 

Colonel  Thomas  Ewing's  Third  battalion,  Maryland  militia,  flying 

Colonel  William  Richardson's  Fourth  battalion,  Maryland  militia, 
flying  camp. 

Captain  Sebastian  Bauman's  New  York  company  of  Continental 

Captain-Lieutenant  Winthrop  Sargent's  Massachusetts  company 
of  Continental  artillery. 

Captain  Alexander  Hamilton's  New  York  State  company  of  artil- 

Detachment  of  Colonel  Elisha  Sheldon's  Second  regiment  light 

Brigadier- General  Hugh  Mercer's  Brigade  (joo  officers  and  meti)} 

Colonel  John  Durkee's  Twentieth  regiment.  Continental  foot  — 

Colonel  Philip  Burr  Bradley's  battalion,  Connecticut  State  troops. 

Colonel  Israel  Hutchinson's  Twenty-seventh  regiment,  Conti- 
nental foot  —  Massachusetts. 

Lieutenant- Colonel  Francis  Ware's  First  Maryland  regiment.  Con- 
tinental infantry. 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Commandant  Moses  Rawlins,  Maryland  rifle 
battalion  volunteers. 
1  On  the  march  he  was  also  joined,  as  has  been  said,  by  this  brigade. 

No.  2.    \\'ashington's  Orders. 


Brunswig,  December  ist,  1776 
Sir:  — 

You  are  to  proceed  to  the  two  ferries  near  Trenton  and  to  see 
all  the  boats  there  put  in  the  best  order,  with  a  sufficiency  of  oars 
and  poles  and  at  the  same  time  to  collect  all  the  additional  boats 
you  can  from  both  above  and  below  and  have  them  brought  to 
these  Ferries  and  secured  for  the  purpose  of  camping  over  the 
Troops  and  Baggage  in  the  most  expeditious  manner ;  and  for 
this  purpose  you  will  get  every  assistance  in  the  power  of  the 
Quarter  Master  General  and  any  person  in  his  department.  You 
will  particularly  attend  to  the  Durham  Boats  which  are  very 
proper  for  this  purpose.  The  Baggage  of  the  army  should  be  got 
over  the  river  as  soon  as  possible  and  put  in  some  convenient 
place  a  little  back  of  it. 

I  am,  Sir,  Y'r  most  ob't  serv't 

Go.  Washington, 


Headquarters,  Falls  of  Delaware,  nth  December  1776 
Sir:  — 

From  the  movements  of  the  enemy  downwards,  I  think  it  highly 
necessary  that  the  Post  at  Dunk's  Ferry  should  be  guarded.  I 
therefore  desire  that  one  of  the  Battalions  of  your  Brigade  may 
immediately  march  and  take  post  at  that  place.  If  it  is  agreeable 
to  you,  I  would  choose  the  3d  Battalion  under  the  command  of 
Lt-Colonel  Nixon.  The  other  two  Battalions  should  be  under 
orders  to  march  at  a  moments  warning.  I  expect  the  pleasure  of 
your  company  at  dinner,  but  if  you  cannot  come,  as  soon  after  as 

I  am  Sir,  Yo.  most  Obt.  Svt. 

Go.  Washington. 
Col.  Cadwalader 

Endorsed  thereon  was  the  following  instruction:  "The  Bat- 
talion that  goes  down  should  be  provided  with  two  field  pieces, 
with  artillerymen  and  ammunition  in  proportion." 




You  are  to  post  your  Brigade  at  and  near  Bristol.  Colonel 
Nixon's  Regiment  to  continue  where  it  is  at  Dunk's  Ferry  —  but 
if  you  find  from  reconnoitering  the  ground,  or  from  any  move- 
ments of  the  enemy,  that  any  other  disposition  is  necessary, 
you  '11  make  it  accordingly  without  waiting  to  hear  from  me,  but 
to  acquaint  me  with  the  alterations  and  the  reasons  for  it  as  soon 
as  possible.  You  'I  establish  the  necessary  guards  and  throw  up 
some  little  Redoubts  at  Dunk's  Ferry  and  the  different  passes  in 
the  Nesh  amine. 

Pay  particular  attention  to  Dunk's  Ferry,  as  its'  not  improbable 
something  may  be  attempted  there.  Spare  no  pains  or  expense 
to  get  intelligence  of  the  enemy's  motions  and  intentions.  Any 
promises  made,  or  sums  advanced,  shall  be  fully  complied  with 
and  discharged.  Keep  proper  Patrols  going  from  guard  to  guard. 
Every  piece  of  intelligence  you  obtain  worthy  notice,  send  it  for- 
ward by  express.  If  the  enemy  attempt  a  landing  on  this  side, 
you  '1  give  them  all  the  opposition  in  your  power.  Should  they 
land  between  Trenton  Falls  and  Bordentown  Ferry  or  any  where 
above  Bristol,  and  you  find  your  force  quite  unequal  to  their  force 
give  them  what  opposition  you  can  at  Neshamine  ferry  and  fords. 
In  a  word  you  are  to  give  them  all  the  opposition  you  can  with- 
out hazzarding  the  loss  of  your  Brigade.  Keep  a  good  guard 
over  such  boats  as  are  not  scuttled  or  rendered  unfit  for  use. 
Keep  a  good  lookout  for  spies,  and  endeavor  to  magnify  your 
number  as  much  as  possible.  Let  the  troops  always  have  three 
days'  provisions  cookt  before  hand.  Indeavor  to  keep  your 
Troops  as  much  together  as  possible,  night  and  day,  that  they 
may  be  ever  in  readiness  to  march  upon  the  shortest  notice. 
You  '1  consult  with  the  Commodore  of  the  Gallics,  and  indeavor 
to  form  such  an  arrangement  as  will  most  effectually  guard  the 
river.  To  your  discretion  and  prudence  I  submit  any  further 
regulations  and  recommend  the  greatest  degree  of  vigilence. 

If  you  should  find  yourself  unable  to  defend  the  passes  of  the 
Neshamine,  or  the  enemy  should  rout  you  from  your  post,  you 
are  to  repair  to  the  strong  ground,  near  Germantown,  unless  you 
have  orders  from  me  or  some  other  general  officer  to  the  con- 


Be  particularly  attentive  to  the  roads  and  vessels  and  suffer  no 
person  to  pass  over  to  the  Jerseys  without  a  permit. 

Given  at  Head  Quarters,  Trenton  Falls  the  12th  day  of  Decem- 
ber, 1776. 

Go.  Washington. 

to  colonel  ewing. 
Sir  :  — 

Your  brigade  is  to  guard  the  river  Delaware  from  the  ferry 
opposite  to  Bordentown  till  you  come  within  two  miles  or  there- 
abouts of  Yardley's  Mill  to  which  General  Dickinson's  command 
will  extend. 

About  one  hundred  or  a  hundred  and  fifty  men  will,  I  should 
think  be  sufficient  at  the  post  opposite  to  Borden  Town.  The 
principal  part  of  your  force  should  be  as  convenient  as  possible 
to  the  fort  above  Hoop's  Mill  in  order  that  if  a  passage  should 
be  attempted  at  that  place  you  may  give  the  earliest  and  most 
spirited  opposition  ;  the  success  of  which  depending  upon  good 
intelligence  and  the  vigilance  of  your  guards  and  sentries  will 
induce  you  to  use  every  means  in  your  power  to  procure  the  first 
and  every  endeavor  to  enforce  and  encourage  the  latter. 

Between  Borden  Town  and  the  mill  and  from  the  mill  to  the 
extent  of  your  line  above  you  are  to  have  intermediate  guards 
and  sentries  who  are  to  be  as  attentive  as  possible  in  discovering 
and  informing  you  of  every  movement  of  the  enemy,  constant 
patrols  are  also  to  pass.  In  a  word  so  much  depends  upon  watch- 
fulness that  you  cannot  possibly  be  too  much  upon  your  guard. 

As  the  fort  from  the  Jersey  shore  leads  on  to  the  upper  end  of 
the  island  adjoining  the  mill  you  are  to  throw  up  a  breast-work 
for  musketry  near  the  landing-place  and  secure  your  communica- 
tion with  it.  Besides  this  work  another  on  the  height  on  this 
side  for  a  field  piece  or  two  should  be  erected.  Be  particularly 
careful  of  your  field-pieces  and  do  not  suffer  them  to  be  left  if 
their  is  a  possibility  of  avoiding  it. 

You  are,  as  I  before  said  to  give  every  possible  opposition  to 
the  enemy  particularly  at  crossing  the  river ;  but  if  you  should  be 
overpowered  and  obliged  to  retreat  join  that  part  of  the  troops 
under  my  immediate  command,  or  the  other  under  Colonel  Cad- 
walader ;  in  the  latter  case  the  best  stand  possible  is  to  be  made 
at  Neshamine  Ferry  bridge  and  fords ;  but  if  you  are  unable  to 
hold  these  then  seize  the  strong  grounds  in  the  neighborhood  of 


German  Town  unless  you  receive  orders  to  the  contrary  from  me 
or  some  other  your  superior  officer. 

Spare  no  pains  nor  cost  to  gain  information  of  the  enemy's 
movements  and  designs.  Whatever  sums  you  pay  to  obtain  this 
end  I  will  cheerfully  refund.  Every  piece  of  information  worthy 
of  communication  transmit  to  me  without  loss  of  time.  A  part 
of  Colonel  Hart's  battalion  I  have  ordered  to  join  your  brigade. 
Keep  your  troops  always  supplied  with  three  day's  provisions  and 
prevent  them  from  straggling  that  they  may  be  ready  at  a  mo- 
ment's warning  to  oppose  the  enemy  in  their  passage  of  the  river. 
Be  particularly  attentive  to  the  boats  and  other  vessels  and  sufEer 
no  person  to  pass  over  to  the  Jersey  shore  without  a  permit. 

Given  at  Head  Quarters  at  Trenton  Falls  this  12  th  day  of  De- 
cember 1776. 

Go.  Washington. 

to  gexeral  dickinson. 
Sir:  — 

You  will  post  your  troops  at  Yardley's  Ferry  or  somewhere  near 
it.  Find  out  the  fording  place  there  and  have  a  redoubt  thrown 
up  immediately.  You  and  General  Ewing  must  divide  the  ground 
between  Trenton  Falls  and  your  post,  and  establish  the  proper 
guards  and  patroles  to  watch  the  enemy's  motions.  You  will 
spare  no  pains  or  expense  to  obtain  intelligence.  All  promises 
made  or  moneys  advanced  shall  be  fully  complied  with  and  dis- 
charged. Every  piece  of  intelligence  worthy  notice  you  obtain 
forward  it  to  me  by  express.  See  the  troops  always  have  three 
days'  provisions  cooked  beforehand  and  keep  them  together  as 
much  as  possible  night  and  day  that  they  may  be  in  readiness  in 
the  shortest  notice  to  make  head  against  the  enemy.  Should 
they  attempt  to  land  on  this  side  you  will  give  them  all  the  op- 
position in  your  power.  Should  you  be  routed  from  your  post 
you  are  to  repair  to  the  strong  grounds  at  German-Town  unless 
you  can  possibly  join  the  upper  or  lower  division  of  the  Army 
which  if  practicable  you  are  to  do.  Be  particularly  attentive  to 
the  boats  and  other  vessels  and  sufEer  no  person  to  pass  over  to 
the  Jersey  shore  without  a  permit. 

Given  at  Head-Quarters  at  Trenton  Falls  this  12th  day  of  De- 
cember 1776. 

Go.  Washington. 


No.  3.    Proclamation  of  the  Howes. 
By  Richard    Howe  of  the  Kingdom  of  Ireland  and  William 
Howe,  Esq.,  General  of  his  Majesty's    Forces  in  America,  the 
King's  Commissioners  for  restoring  peace  to  his  Majesty's  Col- 
onies and  Plantations  in  North  America,  &c. 


Whereas,  by  our  Declarations  of  the  14th  of  July  and  igth  of 
September  last,  in  pursuance  of  his  Majesty's  most  gracious  in- 
tentions towards  his  subjects  in  the  Colonies  or  Provinces  of  New 
Hampshire,  Massachusetts-Bay,  Rhode-Island,  Connecticut,  New 
York,  New  Jersey,  Pennsylvania,  the  three  lower  counties  on 
Delaware,  Maryland,  Virginia,  North  Carolina,  South  Carolina 
and  Georgia,  all  persons  speedily  returning  to  their  just  allegiance 
were  promised  a  free  and  general  pardon  and  were  invited  to 
accept  not  only  the  blessings  of  peace,  but  a  secure  enjoyment  of 
their  liberties  and  properties,  upon  the  true  principles  of  the  Con- 
stitution :  And,  whereas,  notwithstanding  the  said  declaration, 
and  the  example  of  many  who  have  availed  themselves  of  the 
assurances  therein  made,  several  bodies  of  armed  men,  in  open 
contempt  of  his  Majesty's  proffered  clemency,  do  still  continue 
their  opposition  to  the  establishment  of  legal  government  and 
peace :  and  divers  other  ill-disposed  persons  pursuing  their  own 
ambitious  purposes  in  the  exercise  of  a  lawless  influence  and 
power,  are  using  fresh  endeavours,  by  various  arts  and  misrepre- 
sentations, to  alienate  the  confidence  and  affection  of  his  Ma- 
jesty's subjects  :  to  defeat  every  plan  of  reconciliation,  and  to 
prolong  the  unnatural  war  between  Great  Britain  and  her  Col- 
onies :  Now,  in  order  to  the  more  effectual  accomplishment  of 
his  Majesty's  most  gracious  intentions,  and  the  speedy  restora- 
tion of  the  publick  tranquillity :  and  duly  considering  the  expe- 
diency of  limiting  the  time  within  which  such  pardon  as  afore- 
said shall  be  granted,  and  of  specifying  the  terms  upon  which 
only  the  same  shall  and  may  be  obtained  :  We  do,  in  his  Majes- 
ty's name,  and  by  virtue  of  the  powers  committed  to  us,  hereby 
charge  and  command  all  persons  whatsoever,  who  are  assembled 
together  in  arms  against  his  Majesty's  government,  to  disband 
themselves  and  return  to  their  dwellings,  there  to  remain  in  a 


peaceable  and  quiet  manner :  and  we  also  charge  and  command 
all  such  other  persons  as  are  assembled  together  under  the  name 
of  General  or  Provincial  Congresses,  Committees,  Conventions, 
or  other  associations,  by  whatever  name  or  names  known  and 
distinguished,  or  who,  under  the  colour  of  any  authority  from  any 
such  Congress,  Committee,  Convention  and  other  association, 
take  upon  themselves  to  issue  or  execute  any  orders  for  levying 
money,  raising  troops,  fitting  out  armed  ships  and  vessels,  im- 
prisoning, or  otherwise  molesting  his  Majesty's  subjects,  to  desist 
and  cease  from  all  such  treasonable  actings  and  doings,  and  to 
relinquish  all  such  usurped  power  and  authority,  so  that  peace 
may  be  restored,  a  speedy  remission  of  past  offences  quiet  the 
apprehensions  of  the  guilty,  and  all  the  inhabitants  of  the  said 
Colonies  be  enabled  to  reap  the  benefit  of  his  Majesty's  paternal 
goodness  in  the  preservation  of  their  property,  the  restoration  of 
their  commerce  and  the  security  of  their  most  valuable  rights, 
under  the  just  and  moderate  authority  of  the  Crown  and  Parlia- 
ment of  Great  Britain  :  And  we  do  hereby  declare,  and  make 
known  to  all  men,  that  every  person  who  within  sixty  days  from 
the  day  of  the  date  hereof,  sliall  appear  before  the  Governour,  or 
Lieutenant  Governour,  or  Commander-in-Chief,  in  any  of  his 
Majesty's  Colonies  or  Provinces  aforesaid,  or  before  the  General 
or  Commanding  Officer  of  his  Majesty's  forces  in  America  or  any 
other  officer  in  his  Majesty's  service  having  the  command  of  any 
detachment  or  parties  of  his  Majesty's  forces  there,  or  before  the 
Admiral  or  Commander-in-Chief  of  his  Majesty's  fleets,  or  any 
other  officer  commanding  any  of  his  Majesty's  ships  of  war,  or 
any  armed  vessel  in  his  Majesty's  service,  within  any  of  the  ports, 
havens,  creeks,  or  upon  the  coasts  of  America,  and  shall  claim 
the  benefit  of  this  Proclamation,  and  at  the  same  time  testify  his 
obedience  to  the  laws,  by  subscribing  a  declaration  in  the  words 
following :  "  I,  A.  B.  do  promise  and  declare,  that  I  will  remain 
in  a  peaceable  obedience  to  his  Majesty,  and  will  not  take  up 
arms,  nor  encourage  others  to  take  up  arms,  in  opposition  to  his 
authority "  shall  and  may  obtain  a  full  and  free  pardon  of  all 
treasons  and  misprisions  of  treasons,  by  him  heretofore  committed 
or  done,  and  of  all  forfeitures,  attainders,  and  penalties  for  the 
same  :  and  upon  producing  to  us,  or  to  either  of  us,  a  certificate 
of  such  his  appearance  and  declaration,  shall  and  may  have  and 


receive  such  pardon  made  and  passed  to  him  in  due  form.  Given 
at  New  York,  this  thirtieth  day  of  November,  1776. 

W.  Howe 
By  command  of  their  Excellencies  : 

Henry  Strachey. 

No.  4.    Hessian  Field  Officers. 

Grenadier  Regiment  Rail. 

Colonel,  Johann  Gottlieb  Rail. 
Lieutenant-Colonel,  Balthasar  Brethauer. 
Major,  Johann  Jost  Matthaus. 

Fusilier  Regiment  von  Lossberg 

(sometimes  called  Alt  von  Lossberg;  called  after  Lieuten ant- 
General  Baron  Friedrich  Wilhelm  von  Lossberg). 

Lieutenant-Colonel,  Francis  Scheffer. 
Major,  Ludwig  August  von  Hanstein. 

Fusilier  Regiment  von  Knyphausen 

(called  after  Lieutenant-General  Wilhelm  von  Knyphausen,  com- 
mander of  the  Second  division  of  the  Landgraflich  Hessischen 
corps  in  America). 

Major,  Friedrich  Ludwig  von  Dechow. 

Lieutenant  Friedrich  Fischer  commanded  the  six-gun  battery  of 

artillery,  two  guns  being  assigned  to  each  regiment,  and 
Lieutenant  Friedrich  Wilhelm  von  Grothausen  commanded  the 

detachment  of  Hessian  yagers. 

No.  5.    General  Howe  to  Colonel  von  Donop. 

Head  Quarters  Trenton  13th  Dec.  1776. 
Sir:  — 

You  are  to  command  the  troops  to  be  cantoned  at  Trenton, 
Bordentown  and  Burlington  to  report  and  receive  Orders  from 
Major-General  Grant  at  Brunswick  and  to  communicate  with 
Brigadier-General  Leslie  at  Princetown. 

The  Brigade  of  Railee,  fifty  yagers  and  twenty  Dragoons  to  be 
stationed  at  Trenton  with  six  hessian  three  pounders.  The  Dra- 
goons to  be  relieved  once  a  week  from  Princetown. 


Three  Battalions  of  hessian  Grenadiers  and  a  Detachment  of 
Yagers,  with  six  hessian  three  pounders  and  if  you  please  two 
British  eighteen  pounders,  to  take  post  at  Bordentown. 

A  Bat.  of  hess.  Gren  and  42  d  Regt.  with  two  hessian  three 
pounders  and  four  british  eighteen  pounders,  with  two  six  and 
two  three  pounders,  to  form  the  Garrison  of  Burlington  ;  you 
will  fix  such  other  posts  as  shall  appear  to  be  necessary  to  secure 
the  communication  of  your  cantonment. 

Order  the  Farmers  to  give  the  exact  Lists  of  their  Cattle,  Grain 
and  forage,  out  of  which  you  will  please  to  form  magazines  for 
subsisting  the  Troops,  for  which  Capt.  Gamble  Assistant  De.  Qr. 
master  General  will  give  receipts,  who  is  to  remain  under  your 
orders  during  the  winter  and  whatever  is  expended  will  be  paid 
by  the  Commissary-General,  who  will  of  course  take  care  that  the 
Issues  do  not  exceed  the  Rations  allowed  to  the  Troops.  The 
Troops  to  supply  themselves  with  Firewood  and  candles  for 
which  they  will  receive  an  allowance  from  the  Barrackmaster 
General,  who  will  in  like  manner  make  an  allowance  for  Barrack- 
Utensils  if  they  are  not  delivered.  Axes,  Wedges  and  Cross  Cut 
Saws  shal  be  sent  from  Brunswick. 

Any  quantity  of  Salt  provision  or  flour,  exceeding  what  may  be 
thought  necessary  for  the  use  of  a  private  family  is  to  be  consid- 
ered as  a  Rebel  Store,  be  seized  for  the  Crown  and  issued  to  the 
Troops  as  a  saving  to  the  public. 

Rum  and  salt  shall  be  sent  immediately  for  the  Troops  under 
your  command,  but  if  a  quantity  of  both  or  of  either  can  be  found 
in  your  Neighborhood,  acquaint  Major-General  Grant  of  it  im- 
mediately to  save  the  trouble  and  expense  of  Carriage. 

Be  so  good  as  to  reduce  the  Number  of  your  officers  horses  as 
much  as  you  can,  and  dismiss  as  many  of  the  Waggons,  belong- 
ing to  the  different  Regiments  as  possible. 

You  can  secure  Waggons  in  the  country  in  case  of  a  March 
and  can  hire  them  occasionally  when  you  have  use  for  them  by 
giving  receipts  for  the  number  of  days  they  are  employed  for 
which  the  farmer  will  be  paid  by  the  Quartermaster  General. 

W.  Howe. 


No.    6.     COLONEU  VON   DONOP   TO    COLONEL   RaLL. 

Trenton,  14th  day  of  December  1776. 
Sir:  — 

As  I  have  the  honour  to  receive  my  brother's  brigade  under 
my  orders  in  going  into  winterquarters,  I  send  you  herewith  the 
orders  received  from  the  commanding  general  with  the  request 
that  you  publish  them  to  your  brigade  and  cause  them  to  be 

I.  Good  order  must  prevail  at  all  the  quarters.  Fire  and  lights 
must  be  carefully  looked  after,  because  all  consequences  result- 
ant therefrom  would  be  of  great  loss  to  the  force. 

II.  Immediately  after  going  into  quarters  an  exact  list  must  be 
sent  me  at  Bordentown,  where  my  quarters  will  be  during  the 
winter,  what  amount  of  rations  each  regiment  needs  every  day, 
also  what  the  artillery  needs  and  how  long  the  present  supply 
will  last.  My  brother  should  know  that  the  Commanding-Gen- 
eral desires  all  officers  to  dispense  with  all  horses  not  absolutely 
needed  and  that  passes  must  be  furnished  to  all  owners  or  their 
servants  who  supply  waggons  for  baggage. 

III.  The  Commanding-General  requires  of  me  a  report  every 
fourteen  days  of  everything  in  my  command,  so  my  brother  will 
see  that  I  have  a  report  from  him  of  all  his  officers  according  to 
the  usual  form  every  fourteen  days.  The  rest  of  the  military 
plans  so  far  as  relate  to  the  safety  of  the  post  I  leave  to  my  bro- 
ther's own  judgment.  I  will  come  here  in  a  few  days  and  look  at 
the  position  and  make  arrangements  according  to  our  views  of 
the  subject.  Meanwhile  I  beg  my  brother  to  guard  the  two 
bridges  over  the  creeks  on  the  left  bank  of  his  position  one  called 
the  Creek  bridge  and  the  other  the  Crosswicks  draw  bridge  by 
which  our  communications  with  each  other  will  be  kept  up. 


•    No.  7.    Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Leslie. 

Bordentown  i6th  day  December  1776 
Sir  :  — 

In  accordance  with  the  orders  of  His  Excellency,  the  General- 
in-Chief  I  am  instructed  to  communicate  with  you  from  time  to 
time.  You  know  without  doubt  already  that  I  have  been  assigned 
to  Trenton,  Bordentown  and  Burlington  for  winter  quarters,  with 

DONOP    TO    LESLIE  319 

that  of  Colonel  Rail  and  the  42d  British  Regiment.  On  the  14th 
inst.  I  commenced  the  march  to  this  place  leaving  the  brigade  of 
Rail  with  twenty  dragoons  and  fifty  yagers  at  Trenton.  I  made 
a  post  at  Bordentown  with  the  two  batteries  of  von  Linsingen 
and  von  Minnigerode,  pushing  the  42d  Regiment  with  the  bat- 
talion of  von  Block  on  to  Black  Horse.  I  am  waiting  with  im- 
patience the  arrival  of  the  Grenadier  Battalion  Koehler  which  will 
bring  with  them  six  eighteen  pounders,  after  which  I  will  take 
possession  of  Burlington,  where  there  are  according  to  reports 
eight  or  ten  gondolas.  We  will  see  what  resistance  they  will  make 
to  our  heavy  artillery.  Two  boats  had  anchored  on  the  river  two 
miles  above  me.  I  have  taken  the  two  six  pounders  of  the  42d 
regiment  and  I  was  constructing  two  batteries  to  place  them  in 
when  the  boats  hastily  left  their  anchorage  last  evening.  Some 
one  informed  me  yesterday  that  a  party  of  rebels  were  behind  me 
pillaging  the  loyalists  and  not  being  able  to  pass  Black  Horse  they 
marched  to  Mount  Holly  and  Moorestown  to  join  General  Put- 
nam, who  must  be  between  Hoppin's  and  Cooper's  Creek  with 
3000  men.  I  sent  out  a  detachment  of  100  men  who  will  push  on 
to  Mount  Holly  to  find  out  the  truth  of  all  reports  and  to  recon- 
noitre the  country  on  that  side.  The  bearer  of  this  letter  is  one 
of  my  Quarter  Masters  whom  I  send  to  New  York  with  some 
wagons  and  to  get  money  and  clothing  for  my  men.  I  beg  you, 
Sir,  to  furnish  an  escort  to  New  Brunswick. 

I  have  the  honor  to  be.  Sir,  Yours  etc. 

To  General  Leslie,  Princeton. 

P.  S.  The  patrol  above  mentioned  has  just  returned  not  hav- 
ing seen  anything  of  the  enemy.  Near  the  bridge  between  Mount 
Holly  and  Moorestown  they  found  a  quantity  of  cannon  ball,  iron 
etc.,  which  they  threw  into  the  water.  According  to  the  opinion 
of  the  inhabitants.  General  Putnam  must  be  at  Cooper's  Creek 
with  4000  men  and  must  be  busy  in  transporting  stores.  You 
know  better  than  I  if  the  news  is  true  that  Wasrfiington  has 
crossed  the  Delaware  at  Vessel's  Ferry  with  a  large  corps  to  join 
the  corps  of  Lee. 


No.  8.    Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Grant. 

BoRDENTOWN,  1 6th  of  Dec.  1776. 
Sir  : 

Hearing  that  the  heavy  artillery  is  coming  I  have  posted  my- 
self here  with  the  battalions  von  Linsingen  and  von  Minnige- 
rode,  having  ordered  the  4.26.  Regiment  and  the  von  Block 
Battalion  to  Black  Horse  and  its  neighborhood.  From  there  the 
chasseurs  will  make  a  patrol  to  Mount  Holly  and  Burlington.  It 
will  soon  appear  what  resistance  these  marauders  will  make  when 
the  six  heavy  pieces  of  artillery  are  discharged  at  them,  for  they 
will  destroy  all  before  them.  For  this  purpose  I  have  had  the 
regiment  of  Colonel  Sterling  and  the  battalion  von  Block  to  make 
eight  hundred  fascines  and  I  will  send  them  along  with  the  artil- 
lery so  that  I  can  construct  a  battery  in  one  night.  Two  vessels 
have  gone  up  above  me  and  have  anchored  a  little  less  than  two 
miles  above  here.  I  am  now  engaged  in  making  two  batteries 
here  from  which  to  attack  them.  For  this  work  I  have  taken  the 
two  six  pounders  of  Lieutenant  Colonel  Sterling's  regiment  until 
two  eighteen  pounders  arrive  to  take  their  place.  People  have 
warned  me  that  there  is  a  rebel  party  of  300  mounted  men  wan- 
dering around  here  and  pillaging  the  tories  and,  because  they 
cannot  pass  Black  Horse,  they  will  return  by  Mount  Holly  and 
Moorestown,  passing  between  Hoppin's  and  Cooper's  Creeks 
where  General  Putnam  is  said  to  have  placed  an  effective  force 
of  3000  men.  I  will  detach  today  to  oppose  them  200  men  with 
a  few  horse  which  will  push  toward  Mount  Holly  and  get  the 
exact  truth  of  this  report.  They  will  reconnoitre  the  country  on 
this  side.  I  am  not  very  well  and  but  for  that  I  would  go  myself. 
Yesterday  Major  Nichols  of  the  enemy  brought  here  two  English 
officers  to  exchange  for  those  Captain  Sims  had  taken  to  Bristol. 
The  Major  will  be  led  back  today  to  Burlington  by  an  officer  and 
a  mounted  man.  He  is  a  good  looking  man,  and  very  enthusi- 
astic for  their  cause.  He  pleased  me  very  much  in  what  he  said 
about  the  arrival  of  our  other  Hessian  troops  and  he  appeared 
greatly  disturbed  and  curious  concerning  our  operations  this 
winter.  He  seemed  more  desirous  for  permanent  public  good 
than  for  immediate  peace.  Colonel  Rail  according  to  his  report 
has  made  some  changes  in  his  post,  which  in  my  opinion  are  wise 


and  I  will  go  tomorrow  to  see  his  plans.  Mr.  Kemble  '  seems  to 
be  a  well  bred  man  and  takes  all  possible  trouble  to  carry  out 
the  orders  of  the  General-in-Chief  and  I  hope  that  all  others  who 
are  under  my  command  will  do  the  same  for  me.  I  pray  you  to 
commend  me  to  his  good  graces. 

And  to  believe  me,  with  much  esteem,  Sir, 

Your  most  humble  and  most  ob't  ser't, 

C.  DoNOP. 

P.  S.  As  the  houses  here  are  built  very  poorly  and  as  the 
greater  part  of  the  inhabitants  have  carried  away  their  beds  it 
will  be  necessary  for  the  men  to  lie  on  straw  beds  upon  the 
ground,  otherwise  they  will  perish  with  the  cold. 

No.  9.    Extract  from  a  Letter  to  a  Gentleman  in  Con- 

(Dated  Headquarters  Trenton  Falls,  December  12,  1776.) 

My  last  to  you  was  by  Captain  • ,  of  the  5th  instant  from 

Trenton.  I  was  then  in  hopes  my  next  would  have  acquainted 
you  we  were  advancing  on  the  enemy.  My  reason  for  presuming 
this  was  a  speedy  arrival  of  General  Lee  with  his  division  of  the 
Array.  Our  enemy  knowing  how  far  he  was  in  the  rear,  and  our 
weak  situation,  made  a  forced  march  to  come  up  with  us,  and 
were  within  two  miles  of  Princetown,  when  Lord  Stirling  began 
his  retreat  with  two  brigades.  Boats  from  every  quarter  were 
collected,  and  our  stores,  together  with  the  troops  remaining  at 
Trenton,  were  immediately  conveyed  over  the  Delaware.  On 
Sunday  morning  having  everything  over  we  crossed  the  Dela- 
ware and  took  our  quarters  about  half  a  mile  from  the  river. 
About  eleven  o'clock  the  enemy  came  marching  down  with  all  the 
pomp  of  war,  in  great  expectation  of  getting  boats  and  immedi- 
ately pursuing  ;  but  of  this  we  took  proper  care  by  destroying 
every  boat,  shallop  &c  we  could  lay  our  hands  on.  They  made 
forced  marches  up  and  down  the  river  in  pursuit  of  boats  but  in 
vain.  This  is  Thursday ;  the  enemy  are  much  scattered,  some 
in  Trenton  directly  opposite  from  that  on  their  left  to  Borden- 
town  and  Burlington  on  the  river  banks.  The  enemy  are  at  least 
twelve  thousand  strong,  determined  for  Philadelphia  for  which 

1  Major  Samuel  Kemble,  deputy  adjutant-general  of  General  Howe. 


purpose  they  are  transporting  flat-bottom  boats  from  Brunswick 
to  Trenton  by  land. 

No.  10.    Colonel  Joseph  Reed  to  General  Washington. 

December  I2,  1776. 
Dear  Sir  — 

The  gentlemen  of  the  Light  Horse  who  went  into  the  Jerseys 
have  returned  safe.  They  proceeded  into  the  country  'till  they 
met  an  intelligent  person  directly  from  Trenton,  who  informed 
them  that  General  Howe  was  then  with  the  main  body  of  his 
army :  that  the  flying  army,  consisting  of  the  Light  Infantry  and 
grenadiers,  under  Lord  Cornwallis,  still  lay  at  Pennytown  and 
there  was  no  appearance  of  a  movement.  That  they  are  certainly 
waiting  for  boats  from  Brunswick  ;  that  he  believed  they  would 
attempt  a  landing  in  more  places  than  one ;  that  their  artillery 
park  has  thirty  pieces  of  cannon  —  all  field  pieces.  They  are 
collecting  horses  from  all  parts  of  the  country.  Some  move- 
ment was  intended  yesterday  morning  but  laid  aside ;  but  what 
it  was  and  why  they  did  not  proceed  he  does  not  know.  I  sent 
off  a  person  to  Trenton  yesterday  morning  with  directions  to 
return  by  Pennytown.  I  told  him  to  go  to  .  .  .  and  get  what 
intelligence  he  could  from  him.  He  is  not  yet  returned.  I 
expect  him  every  moment.  I  charged  him  to  let  .  .  .  know  that, 
if  he  would  watch  their  motions  and  could  inform  us  of  the  time 
and  place  of  their  proposed  landing,  he  should  receive  a  large 
reward  for  which  I  would  be  answerable.  I  cannot  but  think 
their  landing  will  be  between  this  and  Trenton,  for  three  rea- 
sons : 

I  St.  That  Lord  Cornwallis  with  that  part  of  the  army  which  he 
will  lead  keeps  at  Pennytown  within  four  miles  of  the  river. 

2nd.  They  will  by  that  means  avoid  the  ferry  at  Shamony,  and 
the  fords  which,  at  this  season  of  the  year,  must  be  disagreeable 
to  the  troops. 

3rd.  They  will  derive  much  more  assistance  from  the  country 
which  is  but  too  favourable  to  them. 

4th.  They  know  our  principal  artillery  is  near  Trenton  and  the 
passage  through  the  woods  to  Bristol  must  be  unfavourable  to 
them.  On  the  road  above  they  will  find  all  clear  and  the  dis- 
tance nearly  the  same. 

The  river  is  not  and  I  believe  cannot  be  sufificiently  guarded. 


We  must  depend  upon  intelligence  of  their  motions  ;  to  obtain 
which  no  expense  must  be  spared.  If  it  were  possible  to  fix 
signals  answering  to  their  different  movements  that  would  be 
most  speedy  and  effectual.  The  militia  are  crossing  over  in 
parties.  I  fear  they  do  not  mean  to  return.  I  do  not  know  by 
whose  orders,  but  if  their  Colonels  have  power  to  give  permission 
in  a  little  time  there  will  be  none  left.  I  do  not  like  the  condi- 
tion of  things  at  and  above  Coryell's  Ferry ;  the  officers  are  quite 
new  and  seem  to  have  little  sense  of  the  necessity  of  vigilance. 
I  shall  wait  a  little  to  see  my  man  return  and  then  unless 
your  Excellency  think  my  stay  here  of  service,  I  will  return  to 
Headquarters.  I  enclose  you  a  proclamation  which  I  got  from 
the  other  side.  I  suppose  it  is  one  of  the  same  kind  General 
Dickinson  saw.  Mr.  Moylan  desires  me  to  mention  to  your 
Excellency  the  propriety  of  his  meeting  General  Lee  to  inform 
him  of  the  state  of  things  and  wishes  to  know  your  plan  by  the 
return  of  the  Light  Horse. 

I  am  in  haste,  most  respectfully  Dear  Sir, 

Your  obedient  humble  servant, 

Jos  Reed. 

No.  II.     Colonel  Cadwalader  to  Council  of  Safety,  1776. 

Headquarters,  Trenton  Ferry,  Bucks  County 
8th  Deer  1776. 


His  Excely  General  Washington  desires  me  to  request  that  you 
will  immediately  dispatch  a  Party  of  men  from  Philad*  to  cut 
down  &  destroy  the  two  Bridges  on  the  Burlington  Road,  one  on 
Pensawkin  &  the  other  on  Cooper's  Creek  —  as  he  is  apprehen- 
sive the  Enemy  intend  to  pass  to  Philad^  by  that  Rout.  Let  me 
beg  of  you  in  my  own  name  that  you  will  alarm  the  whole  Coun- 
try, South  and  West,  nothing  but  their  assistance  can  save  us ! 
I  am  Gent,  with  great  respect  Your  most  ob'  h'ble  Serv' 

John  Cadwalader. 

No.  12.    Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop. 


I  send  this  patrol  in  order  to  see  what  is  going  on  in  the  neigh- 
borhood of  Bordentown,  and  I  will  send  another  patrol  to  Maid- 
enhead.    The  filing  of  yesterday  was  intended  by  the  enemy  to 


cover  the  landing  of  about  thirty  rebels  who  were  bold  enough  to 
venture  to  a  landing  near  a  house  where  I  had  a  sergeant  and  six 
men.  These  they  forced  to  withdraw.  I  cannot  understand  the 
object  of  the  enemy  in  making  this  crossing  but  I  sent  a  com- 
mand of  thirty  men  there  and  they  had  gone.  I  reinforced  the 
picket  with  six  men  and  placed  them  under  the  protection  of  an 
officer  and  thirty  men  who  will  remain.  A  sergeant  and  six  men 
who  have  charge  of  cattle  I  sent  this  morning  with  forty  oxen  to 
Bordentown.  My  regimental  quarter  masters  are  ready  to  go  to 
New  York  and  are  waiting  for  those  of  my  brother's  brigade. 
There  arrived  yesterday  an  officer  with  twenty  horses  for  the 
Dragoon  Regiment  Burgoyne.  A  patrol  of  them  consisting  of 
six  men  was  sent  to  Pennytown  but  have  not  returned.  I  have 
information  that  a  dragoon  mortally  wounded  lies  at  a  place  ten 
miles  from  here  and  I  have  sent  a  surgeon  to  him. 

Trenton  the  17th  December  1776 
10  o'clock  in  the  morning. 

No.  13.    Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Grant. 

Bordentown,  December  18,  1776. 
Sir  : 

I  have  this  moment  received  your  letter  of  the  ly*  instant. 
Since  I  had  the  honour  to  advise  you  that  there  were  4000  of  the 
enemy  at  Cooper's  Creek  the  best  report  I  can  obtain  reduces 
the  number  to  500.  I  do  not  care  to  take  the  trouble  to  march 
with  all  my  force  for  these  gentlemen  will  not  wait  for  me.  I 
believe  however  that  it  would  be  a  good  thing  to  establish  a  post 
at  Mount  Holly  and  to  push  on  from  there,  and  place  a  guard  at 
the  bridge  between  that  place  and  Moorestown.  From  thence 
we  could  send  out  patrols  to  Rancocas  Creek  and  then  with 
troops  around  Busseltown.  I  could  send  patrols  to  Burlington. 
You  will  see  by  the  map  which  I  send  you  that  I  will  then  be 
able  to  get  information  of  the  enemy  on  both  my  flanks  and  at 
the  same  time  deprive  them  of  the  plan  of  making  a  descent  from 
Rancocas  Creek.  There  is  another  report  concerning  the  rebels 
which  I  get  from  Mr.  Smith,  and  a  messenger  just  from  the  Gen- 
eral-in-Chief reports  the  same  thing  from  Philadelphia..  This 
man  informs  me  that  they  are  hard  at  work  fortifying  the  city 
but  a  man  residing  there  has  assured  me  that  from  the  way  they 


are  doing  it  tlie  work  will  not  be  finished  in  two  years.  Yester- 
day he  passed  Cooper's  Creek  where  there  are  two  battalions, 
one  of  which  was  marching  toward  Haddonfield  and  the  other 
stationed  there  had  destroyed  the  bridge  over  the  creek.  At 
this  place  on  the  i6th  instant  Captain  Loray  ^  of  my  chasseurs 
claims  to  have  thrown  into  the  water  a  quantity  of  cannon  balls. 
There  is  more  news  from  Colonel  Sterling  which  reached  me 
yesterday.  I  have  also  the  honor  to  send  you  a  letter  which  I 
took  from  Captain  Henry  ■*  a  rebel  officer.  Lieutenant  Dela- 
hunty  ^  is  quartered  in  a  house  in  the  country  two  miles  from 
here  because  his  wife  is  sick.  I  cannot  tell  you  then,  my  Gen- 
eral, what  he  has  been  able  to  find  out  but  as  he  will  pass  here 
to-morrow  I  will  find  out  everything.  I  have  just  sent  back  the 
above  mentioned  rebel  officer,  he  assuring  me  that  he  will  leave 
the  army  as  soon  as  we  get  in  possession  of  Philadelphia  and 
not  serve  again  with  the  troops  of  Pennsylvania.  I  believe  you 
have  judged  correctly  of  the  movements  of  the  enemy  at  Vessel's 
Ferry,  but  the  six  dragoons,  of  whom  five  have  returned  met  100 
rebels,  who  while  retreating  fired  rapidly  on  them,  killed  a  horse, 
and  wounded  a  dragoon.  Colonel  Rail  expects  to  make  a  search 
for  them  today  with  a  detachment  of  yagers  and  dragoons.  You 
will  oblige  me,  my  General,  to  give  me  from  time  to  time  some 
of  the  information  you  receive. 

I  have  the  honor  to  be.  Sir,  Your  obt.  ser't. 


N.  B.  The  messenger  who  brought  me  the  news  from  Phila- 
delphia, which  I  had  the  honor  to  send  you  has  told  me  that  he 
was  sent  by  order  of  General  Howe  to  take  a  letter  to  a  resident 
of  Philadelphia.  This  resident  had  requested  him  to  receive  his 
reply  by  word  of  mouth,  that  he  would  do  everything  in  his  power 
to  organize  a  fleet  of  war  vessels  in  the  Delaware  river.  The 
messenger  also  states  that  he  had  been  promised  a  gratuitous 
gift  of  a  commission.     I   desire   to  know  from  you  how  much 

1  Captain  Friedrich  Heinrich  von  Loray  of  Lieutenant-Colonel  von 
Wurmb's  battalion  of  Hessian  chasseurs. 

2  Probably  Captain  John  Henry  of  the  Lancaster  County,  Pennsyl- 
vania, militia. 

3  Lieutenant  Laurence  DeLahunty  of  the  Hessian  garrison  regi- 


ought  to  be  given  him.  Also,  you  will  oblige  me,  General,  to  let 
me  know  if  I  may  send  some  men  into  the  country  to  give  me 
the  news  of  the  enemy  and  if  I  will  be  repaid  the  money  which  I 
will  be  obliged  to  give  them.  There  are  two  of  them  on  their 
way  to  Cooper's  Creek  and  Gloucester  from  whom  I  expect  news 
today  or  tomorrow. 

No.  14.    Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop. 

Trenton,  the  i8th  of  December  1776. 
Sir  : 

This  morning  at  daybreak  another  party  of  rebels  made  a 
landing  at  the  same  place  as  they  did  the  clay  before  yesterday. 
The  yagers  fired  upon  the  boats  and  after  a  cannonade  from  the 
enemy  on  the  other  side  of  the  river  they  withdrew.  I  sent  sev- 
eral detachments  there  but  they  had  gone.  I  received  informa- 
tion just  now  that  a  party  of  rebels  had  crossed  four  miles  above 
here  at  Howell's  ferry.  I  have  sent  a  patrol  of  twelve  yagers 
and  two  dragoons  there  to  ascertain  the  facts.  My  light  dra- 
goons which  I  thought  lost,  returned  yesterday,  having  left  one 
man  behind  mortally  wounded.  They  reported  that  they  came 
across  a  party  of  rebels  about  one  hundred  strong,  who  opened 
on  them  a  terrific  fire.  I  have  sent  this  morning  a  patrol  with  a 
wagon  to  Pennington  to  bring  in  the  wounded  man  if  possible. 


No.  15.    General  Washington  to  Major-General  Lee. 

The  following  intercepted  letter  from  General  Washington  to 
Major-General  Lee  was  found  among  the  German  records  at 
Marburg,  Germany  :  — 

Brunswick,  30th  of  November,  1776. 
My  Dear  General  : 

The  movements  of  the  enemy  are,  since  I  wrote  you  from  New- 
ark, of  such  a  nature  as  things  stand  at  present,  sincerel)'  to  be 
wished  for.  I  have  feared  that  they  would  take  Newark,  Eliza- 
beth Town  and  Amboy  for  their  winter  quarters  in  order  to  under- 
take from  these  places  early  in  the  spring  an  attack  on  Philadel- 
phia and  at  the  same  time  having  a  favourable  season  ahead  that 
they  would  make  a  diversion  on  the  Delaware  river  with  their  fleet. 
The  advantages  they  have  gained  over  us  in  the  past  have  made 


them  so  proud  and  sure  of  success  that  they  are  determined  to 
go  to  Philadelphia  this  winter.  I  have  positive  information  that 
this  is  a  fact  and  because  the  term  of  service  of  the  light  troops 
of  Jersey  and  Maryland  are  ended  they  anticipate  the  weakness 
of  our  army.  Should  they  now  really  risk  this  undertaking  then 
there  is  a  great  probability  that  they  will  pay  dearly  for  it  for  I 
shall  continue  to  retreat  before  them  so  as  to  lull  them  into 

I  am  with  the  greatest  respect,  my  dear  General, 
your  obedient  servant 

Go.  Washington. 

No.  16.   General  Howe  to  Lord  Germain. 

Extract  of  a  letter  from  General  Sir  William  Howe  to  Lord 
George  Germain,  dated  New  York,  December  20,  1776  :  — 

In  Jersey,  upon  the  approach  of  the  van  of  Lord  Cornwallis's 
corps  to  Brunswick  by  a  forced  march,  on  the  ist  instant,  the 
enemy  went  off  most  precipitately  to  Princetown  ;  and  had  they 
not  prevented  the  passage  of  the  Rariton,  by  breaking  a  part  of 
Brunswick  bridge,  so  great  was  the  confusion  among  them,  that 
their  army  must  have  inevitably  been  cut  to  pieces. 

My  first  design  extending  no  further  than  to  get  and  keep  pos- 
session of  East-Jersey,  Lord  Cornwallis  had  orders  not  to  advance 
beyond  Brunswick,  which  occasioned  him  to  discontinue  his  pur- 
suit ;  but  finding  the  advantages  that  might  be  gained  by  pushing 
on  to  the  Delaware,  and  the  possibility  of  getting  to  Philadelphia, 
the  communication  leading  to  Brunswick  was  reinforced,  and  on 
the  6th  I  joined  his  Lordship  with  the  4th  brigade  of  British 
under  the  command  of  Major-general  Grant.  On  the  7th  Lord 
Cornwallis's  corps,  the  guards  excepted,  who  were  left  at  Bruns- 
wick, marched  to  Princetown,  which  the  enemy  had  quitted  on 
the  same  day.  This  corps  marched  in  two  divisions  on  the  8th, 
the  first  advancing  to  Trenton  reached  the  Delaware  soon  after 
the  enemy's  rear  guard  had  crossed.  Their  main  army  having 
passed  the  preceding  day  and  night,  took  post  on  the  other  side 
of  the  river. 

Lord  Cornwallis,  with  the  rear  division,  halted  at  Maidenhead, 
six  miles  from  Trenton,  and  marched  next  morning  at  one  o'clock 
to  Corriel's  Ferry,  thirteen  miles  higher  up  the  Delaware,  in  some 
expectation  of  finding  boats  there,  and  in  ^he  neighborhood,  suf- 


ficient  to  pass  the  river  ;  but  in  this  he  was  disappointed,  the 
enemy  having  taken  the  precaution  to  destroy  or  to  secure  on  the 
south  side,  all  the  boats  that  could  possibly  be  employed  for  this 

The  passage  of  the  Delaware  being  thus  rendered  impracti- 
cable, his  Lordship  took  post  at  Pennington,  in  which  place  and 
Trenton  the  two  divisions  remained  until  the  14th,  when  the 
■weather  having  become  too  severe  to  keep  the  field,  and  the  win- 
ter cantonments  being  arranged,  the  troops  marched  from  both 
places  to  their  respective  stations.  The  chain,  I  own,  is  rather 
too  extensive,  but  I  was  induced  to  occupy  Burlington  to  cover 
the  county  of  Monmouth,  in  which  there  are  many  loyal  inhabit- 
ants, and  trusting  to  the  almost  general  submission  of  the  country 
to  the  southward  of  this  chain,  and  to  the  strength  of  the  corps 
placed  in  the  advance  posts,  I  conclude  the  troops  will  be  in  per- 
fect security.  Lord  Cornwallis  having  desired  to  return  to  Britain, 
the  command  in  Jersey  is  given  to  Major-general  Grant,  in  whose 
approved  good  conduct  I  place  the  greatest  confidence. 

I  cannot  too  much  commend  Lord  Cornwallis's  good  services 
during  this  campaign,  and  particularly  the  ability  and  conduct  he 
displayed  in  the  pursuit  of  the  enemy  from  Fort  Lee  to  Trenton, 
a  distance  exceeding  eighty  miles,  in  which  he  was  well  supported 
by  the  ardour  of  his  corps,  who  chearfully  quitted  their  tents  and 
heavy  baggage,  as  impediments  to  their  march. 

By  pressing  the  rebels  so  close,  they  had  not  time  to  destroy 
the  country,  as  they  intended,  or  to  remove  their  stores,  by  which 
a  large  quantity  of  provisions  and  plenty  of  forage  have  been 

During  Lord  Cornwallis's  stay  at  Pennington,  a  patrole  of 
thirty  dragoons  from  the  i6th  regiment,  was  sent  out  to  gain  in- 
telligence of  a  corps  under  the  command  of  General  Lee,  reported 
to  be  in  Morris  county,  on  their  way  to  cross  the  Delaware  at 
Alexandria.  Lieutenant-colonel  Harcourt  desired  the  direction 
of  this  detachment,  and  learning,  as  he  proceeded,  the  situation 
of  this  corps,  consisting  of  two  thousand  men,  and  of  General 
Lee's  headquarters,  he  contrived  by  infinite  address  and  gallan- 
try, to  get  to  his  house  undiscovered  by  the  guard,  surrounded  it, 
and  overcame  all  their  resistance,  and  made  the  General  prisoner. 

The  time  of  service  for  which  most  of  the  enemy's  troops  were 
engaged  being  expired,  their  present  strength,  from  a  review  of 


the  latest  intelligence  received,  is  about  8000  on  the  south  side 
of  the  Delaware,  and  in  Philadelphia,  500  militia  embodied  in 
Morris  county,  New-Jersey,  and  about  3000  at  Peek's  Kill,  North 
Castle,  and  the  smaller  posts  in  this  province. 

No.  17.    Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop. 

Trenton,  20th  of  December  1776. 

Yesterday  the  rebels  captured  three  men  of  the  von  Lossberg 
regiment  who  went  out  to  procure  forage  two  miles  from  here  and 
not  far  from  the  road  to  Maidenhead.  I  have  written  to  General 
Leslie  at  Princeton  and  asked  him  to  post  some  troops  at  Maiden- 
head in  order  to  keep  open  the  communication  with  Princeton. 
In  fact  my  right  wing  is  too  much  exposed.  Near  Pennington 
stands  a  strong  corps  of  rebels.  At  Howell's  ferry  on  the  other 
side  of  the  Delaware  four  miles  from  here  is  the  left  wing  of  Gen- 
eral Stirling's  command  and  at  Upper  Makefield  on  my  right 
wing  is  the  corps  which  General  Lee  commanded.  The  constant 
alarms  and  troubles  I  have  here  prevents  me  going  to  Borden- 
town  today  as  I  had  hoped.  This  morning  a  grenadier  called 
and  stated  that  he  alone  had  charge  of  the  baggage  that  has  been 
here  already  for  four  days  and  he  wished  that  his  Battalion  would 
get  a  wagon  and  send  for  this  baggage.  He  belongs  to  the  von 
Linsingen  battalion. 


This  minute  Lieutenant  von  Grothausen  who  made  a  patrol 
this  morning  with  twenty  yagers  and  four  dragoons  up  the  Dela- 
ware river  for  four  miles  has  reported.  He  met  a  party  of  rebels 
one  hundred  and  fifty  strong,  and  as  soon  as  they  saw  him  they 
retreated  but  not  until  they  had  killed  one  of  the  horses  of  the 
dragoons.  The  patrol  brought  a  prisoner  with  them  whom  I  have 
in  the  guard  house. 

No.  18.    General  Grant  to  Colonel  von  Donop. 

Brunswick  Dec.  21st  1776. 


I  have  received  your  Letter  of  the  i6th  by  Captain  Campbell 
and  since  then  that  of  the  18"'.  When  you  send  People  for 
Intelligence,  if  you  find  that  they  serve  you  faithfully  be  so  good 


as  to  give  them  certificates  and  refer  them  to  Mr.  Skinner  ^  for 
payment,  which  is  the  method  I  am  directed  to  follow  as  Skin- 
ner is  best  acquainted  with  the  people  of  the  Country  and  of 
course  best  Judge  of  what  will  satisfy  them  in  the  money  way. 

Colonel  Rail  has  lost  another  Dragoon.  I  have  received  three 
letters  of  yesterday's  Date  from  him.  I  send  you  enclosed  my 
answer  and  refer  you  to  it  for  Information  I  have  lately  had 
about  the  Enemy,  which  I  beheve  is  to  be  depended  upon. 

I  understand  the  Meaning  of  Monthly  .  .  .  les  and  have  waved 
it.  Colonel  Rail  sent  a  Detachment  of  loo  men  and  a  cannon  to 
Princetown.  I  don't  touch  much  upon  that,  but  surely  it  was  not 
necessar}',  it  was  making  more  of  the  rebels  than  they  deserve. 

Be  so  good  as  to  communicate  with  General  Leslie  and  fix  with 
him  what  Days  your  Patrols  should  meet  upon  the  road  from 
Trenton  to  Princetown,  you  will  of  Course  vary  the  Force  and 
Time  of  sending  them.  I  likewise  write  to  him  upon  this 

We  are  in  great  Want  of  Carriages  and  Hay.  I  should  be 
much  obliged  to  you  if  you  could  send  me  a  hundred  Waggons 
loaded  with  Hay.  The  Farmers  shall  receive  eleven  Shillings  a 
day  for  each  Waggon  with  two  horses  and  fifteen  shillings  a  day 
for  Waggons  with  four  horses,  the  money  to  be  paid  weekly  by 
Commissary  Christie  in  Gold  or  dollars.  If  you  cannot  get  a 
hundred  Waggons  send  fifty  or  as  many  as  can  be  found  in  the 
country,  you  will  be  kind  enough  to  send  an  Escort  with  them  to 
Princetown.  Gen.  Leslie  will  forward  them  from  thence  to  this 

I  have  not  heard  from  the  General  so  can  say  nothing  about 
your  1 8  pounders  which  I  am  as  anxious  about  as  you  can  be, 
Colonel  Sterling  not  less  so,  in  order  to  get  into  Quarters.^ 

The  rebels  gave  way  at  Pluckhimin,  the  Guards  had  a  man  and 
a  Guide  wounded.  At  Springfield  General  LesUe  had  three  men 
wounded  the  rebels  had  three  killed  one  of  their  most  violent 
Captains  and  several  men  wounded,  they  fled  as  usual  into  the 
mountains.     I  have  some  thoughts  of  quartering  two  regiments 

'  Cortlandt  Skinner,  attorney-general  of  the  Province  of  New  Jer- 
sey under  the  crown,  and  afterward  brigadier-general  commanding  a 
brigade  of  New  Jersey  volunteers  —  loyalists. 

-  It  was  thought  necessary  to  have  these  cannon  in  Burlington  before 
the  post  was  occupied. 


there  to  bring  the  People  to  their  senses,  if  the  General  does  not 
think  the  Post  too  far  advanced. 

I  am  told  Rhode  Island  surrendered  without  firing  a  shot. 
Lord  Cornwallis  has  not  sailed  and  you  will  still  be  in  time  to 
send  Letters  for  Europe,  which  I  shall  forward  by  Express.  Your 
Quarter  masters  passed  and  your  Baggage  shall  be  sent  forward 
when  they  return. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be  with  much  esteem.  Sir, 

Your  most  obed't  &  most  h'ble  servant 

James  Grant. 

No.   19.    Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Grant. 

BoRDENTOWN,  2ist  of  December  1776. 

Following  my  report  of  the  18'  instant  I  have  the  honour  to 
announce  to  you  that  although  I  had  resolved  to  pay  a  visit  to 
Mr.  Putnam  at  Cooper's  Creek,  I  have  now  changed  my  mind 
after  having  gone  out  day  before  yesterday  with  Colonels  von 
Block  and  Sterling  and  a  patrol  to  Mount  Holly.  I  learned  there 
that  there  was  a  large  quantity  of  provisions  on  this  side  of  the 
Delaware  river.  I  concluded  that  at  present  it  would  not  be 
worth  while  to  weary  the  troops  so  much  by  making  this  march. 
The  bridges  have  all  been  destroyed  and  the  troops  would  have 
to  make  a  long  detour  and  march  over  marshy  roads. 


No.  20.    Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop. 

Trenton,  21st  of  December  1776. 

Yesterday  I  sent  two  dragoons  to  Princeton  with  letters.  They 
were  not  gone  over  an  hour  when  one  of  them  came  back  and 
reported  that  the  other  soldier  had  been  killed  and  his  own  horse 
had  been  shot  by  a  concealed  enemy.  He  took  the  letters  from 
his  dead  comrade  and  mounting  his  horse  because  his  own  had 
been  wounded  he  returned  here.  I  sent  immediately  one  Captain 
with  one  hundred  men  and  one  piece  of  artillery  to  Princeton  and 
asked  again  of  General  Leslie  to  place  some  troops  at  Maiden- 
head, if  only  two  hundred  men.  This  would  keep  up  communi- 
cation between  Princeton  and  Trenton  if  strong  patrols  were  sent 
out  from  both  places.     The  party  that  is  making  it  so  unsafe  on 


this  side  of  the  river  is  estimated  by  some  as  one  hundred  and 
fifty  men,  others  say  there  are  not  over  forty  men  strong. 


Major  Dunbar  asks  for  an  escort  for  his  baggage  from  Borden- 
town  to  Trenton,  which  can  be  relieved  as  it  passes  on  from  post 
to  post. 

No.  2  1.    Colonel  Rall  to  Colonel  von  Donop. 

Trenton,  21st  of  December  1776. 
Sir  : 

It  is  impossible,  my  brother,  to  spare  a  battalion  of  my  brigade 
as  I  am  liable  to  be  attacked  at  any  moment.  I  have  the  enemy 
before  me,  behind  me  and  at  my  right  flank.  The  road  from 
here  to  Princeton  is  very  unsafe  so  that  I  have  to  send  your  let- 
ters by  an  escort  of  fifty  men.  The  corps  of  General  Lee  is  at 
my  right  flank  and  the  enemy  are  very  bold  in  front  of  me  at  the 
landings.  But  this  I  will  stop  by  troops  under  cover.  I  will 
attack  them  as  soon  as  they  come  near  enough  to  enable  me  to 
do  it.  Be  kind  enough  to  send  the  baggage  to  the  draw-bridge 
and  it  will  be  taken  in  charge  by  my  command.  I  fully  under- 
stand my  situation  and  three  battalions  are  few  enough  to  defend 
myself  here  as  you  can  readily  judge  for  yourself.  I  beg  there- 
fore to  be  relieved  of  this  request  and  not  be  placed  in  certain 
danger.  I  have  not  made  any  redoubts  or  any  kind  of  fortifica- 
tions because  I  have  the  enemy  in  all  directions.  It  is  then,  my 
brother,  absolutely  impossible.  I  intended  this  morning  to  ask 
you  to  relieve  me  from  posting  guard  at  the  draw-bridge  because 
I  cannot  furnish  men  enough  for  other  duties.  If  however  this 
is  utterly  impossible,  if  it  has  still  to  be  done,  I  am  ready  to  obey 
my  brother  according  to  his  first  order.  I  send  this  by  one  of  my 
mounted  men,  who  can,  in  case  you  still  insist,  bring  the  order 
back  immediately  and  the  battalion  can  march  to  you  instantly. 
But  I  will  then  be  compelled  to  move  out  with  the  two  battalions 
and  camp  outside  the  city. 


He  left  here  one  quarter  to  ten  o'clock. 


No.  22.    Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Grant. 

I  await  with  impatience  the  arrival  of  tlie  Koehler  battaUon 
with  the  heavy  artillery,  because  I  am  not  able  to  take  posses- 
sion of  Burlington  before  they  arrive,  and  as  long  as  the  galleys 
are  in  the  neighbourhood.  I  had  intended  to  post  a  battalion  at 
Mount  Holly  but  since  I  have  myself  seen  the  situation  I  have 
changed  my  mind  not  finding  it  proper  to  do  so  for  the  reason 
that  dense  woods  are  adjacent  and  there  is  high  ground  on  the 
side  of  Moorestown  and  Haddonfield.  But  as  soon  as  the 
Koehler  battalion  arrives  I  will  post  a  considerable  detachment 
there  with  some  horse  so  that  my  left  flank  will  be  properly 
guarded.  There  is  a  great  scarcity  of  houses  to  accommodate 
the  troops  in  order  that  they  may  not  be  exposed  to  annoyance 
by  the  enemy.  It  would  however  be  easy  for  the  brigades  to  be 
quartered  in  the  country  behind  me.  Colonel  Rail  has  reported 
to  me  that  he  had  sent  a  patrol  of  twenty  men  and  four  dra- 
goons along  the  river  above  Trenton  and  the  enemy  as  they  were 
retiring  killed  a  horse  of  our  dragoons  and  in  return  we  captured 
a  prisoner  from  them.  Also  Colonel  Rail  tells  me  three  soldiers 
from  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  who  were  foraging  near  Maid- 
enhead were  killed  by  the  enemy.  The  plans  of  our  troops  have 
evidently  not  been  announced  although  it  was  intended  that  the 
2nd  British  Battalion  should  have  been  posted  at  Maidenhead. 
Accordingly  Colonel  Rail  has  written  to  General  Leslie  that  there 
should  certainly  be  some  troops  there  to  keep  open  the  communica- 
tion between  Trenton  and  Princeton.  Even  now  the  Rail  brigade 
is  exposed  on  the  rear  to  the  attacks  of  the  enemy  and  it  will 
weary  it  too  much  if  it  is  called  upon  to  perform  also  this  service. 
The  General  will  notice  the  exchange  of  the  English  officer  since 
my  last  report  by  examining  the  list  and  the  letter  of  Colonel  Cad- 
walader  hereto  annexed.  At  the  same  time  I  have  the  honor  to 
send  you  the  documents  No.  i,  2  &  3  received  from  Colonel 
Sterling  and  you  will  see  by  No.  4  that  the  situation  is  changed 
again  today.  If  the  enemy  approaches  still  nearer  it  will  be  of 
advantage  to  me.  I  will  go  as  I  had  intended  yesterday  morn- 
ing and  attack  them  on  the  road,  between  Black  Horse  and  Slab- 
town,^  which  is  half  way  between  Black  Horse  and  Mount  Holly. 
He  cannot  march  by  our  right  flank  without  encountering  another 
^  Now  Jacksonville,  Burlington  County. 


body  of  men  on  the  road  from  New  Mill  to  Trenton.  In  this 
case  if  it  is  attempted  I  would  be  obliged  to  use  the  troops  of 
Sterling,  von  Block  and  von  Linsingen  and  keep  open  the  com- 
munication with  Rail  and  hold  the  drawbridge  at  Crosswicks 
Creek.  Therefore  I  send  you,  my  General,  such  directions  as 
you  may  think  proper  to  give  to  Lieutenant-Colonel  Koehler  in 
case  he  is  marching  with  the  heavy  artillery  on  the  road  from 
South  Amboy  to  ]\Ioorestown,  for  on  this  road  he  runs  the  risk 
of  falling  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy.  There  is  another  state- 
ment which  I  have  the  honor  to  send  you,  with  a  copy  of  the 
letter  and  my  reply.  I  judge  from  this  letter  that  they  are  de- 
sirous to  keep  Mount  Holly  and  to  declare  Burlington  to  be  neu- 
tral ground.  It  is  possible  for  the  troops  at  Bristol  to  fire  on 
the  town  of  Burlington  with  six  pounders  but  they  cannot  so 
control  Mount  Holly.  In  closing  my  letter  I  just  received  a 
report  from  Colonel  Rail  which  informs  me  that  in  sending  two 
dragoons  yesterday  with  a  letter  to  Princeton  and  scarcely  an 
hour  after  they  started  one  returned  saying  that  the  other  dra- 
goon had  been  killed  by  a  body  of  rebels  who  were  in  ambush  on 
the  road.  He  brought  back  to  Colonel  Rail  the  horse  and  the 
letter  from  the  dragoon  who  had  been  killed.  Colonel  Rail  im- 
mediately detached  one  hundred  men  with  one  cannon  to  take 
the  letter  to  General  Leslie  at  Princeton.  He  asked  him  to  place 
two  hundred  men  at  least  at  Maidenhead  immediately,  which  by 
frequent  patrols  would  assure  the  communication  being  kept  open 
between  Trenton  and  Princeton.  Colonel  Rail  also  said  that 
the  party  of  the  enemy  which  disturbed  the  highway  according 
to  one  report  consisted  of  about  150  men  and  from  other  reports 
not  more  than  40  men. 
(This  letter  was  unsigned.) 

No.  23.    General  Grant  to  Colonel  Rall. 

Brunswick,  Dec.  21st  1776. 

I  have  this  moment  received  your  three  Letters  of  yesterday's 
Date.  I  am  sorry  to  hear  your  Brigade  has  been  fatigued  or 
alarmed.  You  may  be  assured  that  the  rebel  army  in  Pennsyl- 
vania which  has  been  joined  by  Lee's  Corps,  Gates  and  Arnolds 
does  not  exceed  eight  thousand  men  who  have  neither  shoes  nor 
stockings,  are  in  fact  almost  naked,  dying  of  cold,  without  blan- 


kets  and  very  ill  supplied  with  Provisions.  On  this  Side  the 
Delaware  they  have  not  three  hundred  men.  These  stroll  about 
in  small  parties,  under  the  command  of  subaltern  officers  none 
of  them  above  the  rank  of  Captain,  and  their  principal  object  is 
to  pick  up  some  of  our  Light  Dragoons. 

With  regard  to  the  communication  to  Burdentown  if  the  duty 
falls  heavy  upon  your  Brigade,  you  will  be  so  good  as  to  apply  to 
Colonel  Donop,  who  will  give  whatever  Directions  are  necessary 
and  when  you  send  Letters  to  Princetown  you  may  either  send  a 
small  Detachment  of  Foot,  or  when  despatch  is  necessary  a  Cor- 
poral and  four  Dragoons.  For  as  General  Howe  does  not  ap- 
prove of  Maidenhead  for  a  Post,  I  can  not  send  Troops  there, 
but  I  have  desired  Brig.  Gen.  Leslie  to  send  Patrols  frequently 
from  Princetown  to  meet  the  patrols  from  Trenton  and  to  fix 
with  Colonel  Donop  and  you,  when  these  Patrols  are  to  be  sent. 
Ammunition  shall  be  sent  for  the  Artillery  &  Powder  &  Balls  to 
make  Cartridges  which  your  men  can  do  themselves  at  their 

Officers  are  to  give  the  parole  and  countresign  in  their  respec- 
tive cantonments,  which  can  be  attended  with  no  inconvenience 
to  the  service,  any  Body  stop'd  by  your  Out  posts  who  has  not 
your  Parole  and  Countresign  will  be  stop'd  of  course  and  brought 
before  you,  if  you  find  he  is  a  Friend  you  will  of  course  release 
him  or  confine  him  if  he  is  a  suspected  Person. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be,  Sir,  Your  most  obed't  &  most  h'ble 


James  Grant 

To  Col.  Rall 

No.  24.    Lieutenant  Colonel  Sterling  to  Colonel  von 




A  gentleman  of  Credit  is  just  come  who  informs  me  that  1000 
of  the  rebels  were  certainly  at  Mountholly  and  they  were  to  be  at 
one  o'clock  at  Slabtown  and  that  2000  more  were  in  the  rear  to 
support  them  which  he  heard  came  in  to  Mountholly  this  morn- 
ing. He  likewise  heard  that  Washington  proposed  to  send  over 
1000  or  1500  men  at  Donks  Ferry,  which  is  3  miles  from  Bur- 
lington on  this  Side  of  Rancocas  Creek,  to  make  a  conjunction 


with  the  above.     Col.  Block  has  ordered  out  3  Companys  that 
are  at  Hancock's  bridge  and  Busseltown. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be,  Sir,  Your  most  obed't  servant 

Thos.  Sterling. 

2  oclock  Saturday 


Sir  : 

Colonel  Block  has  just  now  conimunicated  your  Letter  to  me, 
wherein  you  do  me  the  honour  to  know  my  opinion,  the  Rebels 
without  Doubt  mean  to  beat  up  our  Quarters  and  drive  us  from 
hence  from  their  approaching  so  near  us.  I  am  therefore  of 
opinion,  if  it  is  necessary  to  keep  their  country  for  the  winter 
that  we  should  not  wait  to  be  attacked  but  so  soon  as  we  are 
certain,  that  a  Body  of  them  is  at  Slabtown,  which.  I  believe  is 
now  the  Case,  that  you  Sir  with  the  Troops  at  Burdentown  should 
come  here  and  attack  them  before  they  have  time  to  extend 
themselves  so  as  to  surround  us  or  to  form  a  Plan  to  drive  us 
from  hence.  I  am  confident  we  are  a  Match  for  them  were  their 
numbers  as  strong  as  we  hear  (3000  men).  I  suppose  Colonel 
Raille  will  send  a  Battalion  to  occupy  Burdentown  in  your  ab- 

I  have  the  honour  to  be  Sir,  Your  most  obed't  h'ble  servant 

Thos.  Sterling. 


i  past  4  o'clock  Saturday  21st  Dec.  1776. 

No.  25.    Memoranda. 


{Inielligence  by  Mr.  Hovenden,  who  left  Bucks  County  20th  Dec, 


That  the  Main  Body  of  the  rebel  army  lies  at  Beaumonts  be- 
tween Telits  and  Bakers  Ferry  about  11  miles  above  Trenton 
Ferry  commanded  by  General  Washington  and  Lord  Stirling. 
That  a  party  of  about  3000  men  under  Gen.  Sulivan  had  joined 
Gen.  Washington  and  it  was  said  they  were  immediately  to  march 
and  make  their  Quarters  at  Newtown.  That  of  this  number  near 
200  sick  and  invalids  were  arrived  at  the  hospital  at  Newtown. 
A  party  200  or  300  men  are  stationed  at  Robinsons  Ferry  about  7 
miles  above  Beaumonts,  Don't  know  of  any  other  party  higher  up 


the  river.  That  General  Washington  had  with  him  6  eight  pound- 
ers but  were  removed  from  thence,  know  not  where.  There  are 
opposite  to  Slacks  Island  about  5  miles  below  Beaumonts  4  eight 
pounders.  That  below  Slack's  Island  and  at  Yardley's  are  about 
600  men,  commanded  by  Gen.  Dickinson  with  two  pieces  of 
cannon.  Gen.  Mercer  was  there  but  often  shifts  his  Quarters. 
That  upon  the  most  diligent  Inquiry  and  best  intelligence  he 
could  procure  General  Washington's  whole  Army  did  not  consist 
of  more  than  8000  men.  That  General  Sulivan  went  to  Philadel- 
phia on  the  15^'^  inst  from  Washington's  Quarters.  That  Gen- 
eral Gates  had  not  passed  the  river  on  Thursday  last,  but  was 
informed,  he  was  coming  forward  with  about  500  men. 


(Intelligence  by  Mr.  Haines.,  a  Burlington  County  loyalist^ 

Bazilla  Haines  sent  out  to  procure  Intelligence  on  the  21^' 
of  Dec.  1776  arrived  at  Mount  holly  in  the  night  and  lodged  in 
the  Rebel  camp  there.  Was  informed  they  had  only  two  Field 
pieces,  which  he  thinks  were  three  pounders  as  he  perceived  them 
at  the  church.  That  all  the  Troops  were  drawn  up  in  his  view, 
that  he  walked  round  them  and  thinks  there  were  not  above 
eight  hundred,  near  one  half  Boys  and  all  of  them  militia,  a  very 
few  Pennsylvanians  excepted.  That  he  knew  a  great  many  of 
them,  who  came  from  Gloucester,  Egg  Harbour,  Penns  Neck  and 
Cohansey.     They  were  commanded  by  Col.  Griffin. 


{Intelligence  by  Samuel  Brown,  who  left  Bucks  County  on  the  22''' 

Dec.  1776.) 

That  the  Troops  opposite  to  Trenton  and  Bordentown  are  in 
number  about  600  men  commanded  by  General  Ewing.  Of  these 
m>en  there  is  a  Guard  of  25  men  opposite  Mr.  Field's,  about  50 
at  Mr.  Riche's  opposite  to  Bordenton,  about  half  a  mile  nearer 
Trenton  about  thirty,  the  rest  lay  above  between  Riche's  and 
Trenton  and  over  against  Trenton  there  are  two  pieces  of  can- 
non. That  Gen.  Washingtons  whole  Army  does  not  consist  of 
more  than  8000  men,  about  5000  of  them  Troops  formerly  en- 
listed, partly  brought  from  Jersey  by  Washington  and  partly  by 
Sulivan,  the  rest  are  new  raised  Militia.     That  the  time  of  Enlist- 


ment  of  Ewing's  Brigade  of  600  men  all  expire  the  first  of  Jan. 
next  and  that  the  officers  and  men  and  Gen.  Ewing  himself  has 
declared  they  will  serve  no  longer.  That  the  New  England  Troops 
who  came  with  General  Washington  it  is  generally  believed  from 
their  Declaration  that  they  will  not  serve  longer  than  the  Term  of 
their  Enlistment,  which  expires  also  the  first  of  Jan'y  next,  that 
these  Troops  compose  the  main  Part  of  Washington's  Army. 
Mr.  Hovenden  further  says  that  there  are  four  regiments  or 
rather  the  remains  of  them,  whose  time  expires  the  ist  of  Jan'y 
and  that  he  was  informed  by  their  principal  officers  that  they 
would  serve  no  longer  out  of  their  own  Province. 

{Intelligence  by  Capt.  Losbiniere  who  left  Bristol  the  22"''-  Dec.  1776^ 

That  there  were  two  Companys  at  Neshaminy  Ferry  with  some 
Boats.  At  Bristol  not  more  than  800  or  900  at  most  commanded 
by  Col.  Cadwalader.  No  Entrenchments  or  other  works  but  5 
Cannon,  three  iron  4  pounders,  two  brass  6  pounders,  and  7  flat- 
bottom  boats  which  may  carry  about  50  men  each  and  two  ferry 
Boats,  which  may  carry  the  like  number.  That  they  often  send 
in  the  night  a  party  of  about  50  men  over  the  river  who  land 
above  Burlington,  stay  24  Hours  and  return.  At  Minirks  about 
3  miles  above  Bristol  are  two  companys,  one  Company  at  the  Old 
house  on  Penns-bury. 

At  Mr.  Thos.  Richee's  opposite  to  Bordentown,  between  4  and 
500  men,  and  at  Trenton  Ferry  about  the  same  number,  and  that 
the  whole  number  commanded  by  General  Washington  on  Penn- 
sylvania side,  supposing  the  Corps  commanded  by  Gen.  Lee  to 
have  formed  their  junction,  which  is  confidently  reported,  are 
about  8000  men.  That  since  their  retreat  from  New  Jersey  a 
great  number  of  sick  are  constantly  sending  to  Philadelphia. 
That  he  knew  not  where  Gen.  Putnam  is,  but  understood  that 
Colonel  Griffin  is  on  the  Jersey  side  of  the  River.  That  General 
MifHin  set  out  from  Philadelphia  last  week  to  raise  a  number  of 
men  in  Westmoreland  County  and  other  frontier  Parts  of  Penn- 


No.  26.    Captain  Loray  to  Colonel  Rall. 

Crosswicks  December  21st  1776. 

I  have  placed  a  guard  at  the  large  bridge,  also  have  guarded 
all  the  road  in  the  rear  of  your  command.  You  may  therefore 
feel  that  if  the  enemy  does  not  attack  you  in  front  nothing  can 
hurt  you.  My  patrols  went  as  far  as  Springfield  and  I  heard  that 
there  are  seven  hundred  men  at  Mount  Holly,  but  it  is  not  likely 
that  they  will  undertake  anything.  I  really  believe  that  the 
whole  party  is  nothing  but  a  rebel  patrol.  To-morrow  however  I 
will  report  fully  the  particulars. 


No.  27.    General  Leslie  to  Colonel  Rall. 

Princeton  one  o'Clock  morning. 

I  am  honoured  with  your  Letter  at  12  o'Clock  last  night.  I  've 
ordered  the  first  L.  Infantry  to  be  at  Trenton  tomorrow  at  10 
o'clock  and  I  take  the  2"''  L'.  Inf.  and  300  men  of  the  2""^  Bri- 
gade to  Maidenhead  to  be  in  the  Way  if  wanted. 

I, wish  you  success  and  am  Sir  your  most  obed't  and  h'ble  ser- 

A.  Leslie. 

Today.     I  've  mentioned  the  movement  to  General  Grant. 

No.  28.    Colonel  Reed  to  General  Washington. 

Bristol  22d  December  1776. 
Dear  Sir  : 

Pomroy,  whom  I  sent  by  your  order  to  go  to  Amboy  and  so 
through  the  Jerseys  and  round  by  Princeton  to  you,  returned  to 
Burlington  yesterday.  He  went  to  South  Amboy,  but  was  not 
able  to  get  over  ;  upon  which  he  came  to  Brunswic,  passed  on  to 
Princeton,  and  was  prevented  from  going  to  Pennington,  upon 
which  he  returned  to  Burlington  by  way  of  Cranbury. 

His  intelligence  is,  that  he  saw  no  troops,  baggage  wagons,  or 
artillery  going  to  New  York,  except  about  eight  wagons,  which 
he  understood  had  the  baggage  of  some  of  the  light  horse,  who 
had  been  relieved  and  were  going  into  quarters.     At  Cranbury 


he  saw  sixteen  wagons  going  down  to  South  Amboy  for  the  bag- 
gage of  about  five  hundred  men,  who  Vvere  to  quarter  about  Cran- 
bury,  being  enlisted  forces  commanded  by  one  Laurence.  At 
Brunswic  he  saw  four  pieces  of  cannon  ;  the  number  of  men  he 
could  not  learn,  but  they  did  not  exceed  six  or  eight  hundred. 
Princeton,  he  says,  was  called  head-quarters,  and  there  he  saw  a 
very  considerable  body  of  troops  coming  out  of  the  College,  meet- 
ing-house and  other  places  where  they  quartered.  He  understood 
they  were  settled  in  their  winter  quarters,  and  had  given  over 
further  operations  till  the  spring.  In  Burlington  County  he  found 
them  scattered  through  all  the  farmer's  houses,  eight,  ten,  twelve 
and  fifteen  in  a  house,  and  rambling  over  the  whole  country. 

Colonel  Griffin  has  advanced  up  the  Jerseys  with  six  hundred 
men  as  far  as  Mount  Holly,  within  seven  miles  of  their  head- 
quarters at  the  Black  Horse.  He  has  written  over  here  for  two 
pieces  of  artillery  and  two  or  three  hundred  volunteers,  as  he 
expected  an  attack  very  soon.  The  spirits  of  the  militia  here  are 
very  high ;  they  are  all  for  supporting  him.  Colonel  Cadwalader 
and  the  gentlemen  here  all  agree,  that  they  should  be  indulged. 
We  can  either  give  him  a  strong  reinforcement,  or  make  a  sepa- 
rate attack ;  the  latter  bids  fairest  for  producing  the  greatest  and 
best  efforts.  It  is  therefore  determined,  to  make  all  possible 
preparation  today ;  and,  no  event  happening  to  change  our  mea- 
sures, the  main  body  here  will  cross  the  river  tomorrow  morning 
and  attack  their  post  between  this  and  the  Black  Horse,  proceed- 
ing from  thence  either  to  the  Black  Horse  or  the  Square,  where 
about  two  hundred  men  are  posted,  as  things  shall  turn  out 
with  Griffin.  If  they  should  not  attack  Griffin  as  he  expects,  it 
is  probable  both  our  parties  may  advance  to  the  Black  Horse, 
should  success  attend  the  intermediate  attempt.  If  they  should 
collect  their  force  and  march  against  Griffin,  our  attack  will  have 
the  best  efforts  in  preventing  their  sending  troops  on  that  errand, 
or  breaking  up  their  quarters  and  coming  in  upon  their  rear, 
which  we  must  endeavour  to  do  in  order  to  free  Griffin. 

We  are  all  of  opinion,  my  dear  General,  that  something  must 
be  attempted  to  revive  our  expiring  credit,  give  our  cause  some 
degree  of  reputation,  and  prevent  a  total  depreciation  of  the 
Continental  money,  which  is  coming  on  very  fast ;  that  even  a 
failure  cannot  be  more  fatal,  than  to  remain  in  our  present  situa- 
tion ;  in  short,  some  enterprise  must  be  undertaken  in  our  present 


circumstances,  or  we  must  give  up  the  cause.  In  a  little  time  the 
Continental  army  will  be  dissolved.  The  militia  must  be  taken 
before  their  spirits  and  patience  are  exhausted  ;  and  the  scat- 
tered, divided  state  of  the  enemy  affords  us  a  fair  opportunity  of 
trying  what  our  men  will  do,  when  called  to  an  offensive  attack. 
Will  it  not  be  possible,  my  dear  General,  for  your  troops,  or  such 
part  of  them  as  can  act  with  advantage,  to  make  a  diversion,  or 
something  more,  at  or  about  Trenton  ?  The  greater  the  alarm, 
the  more  likely  the  success  will  attend  the  attacks.  If  we  could 
possess  ourselves  again  of  New  Jersey,  or  any  considerable  part 
of  it,  the  effects  would  be  greater  than  if  we  had  never  left  it. 

Allow  me  to  hope  that  you  will  consult  your  own  good  judg- 
ment and  spirit,  and  not  let  the  goodness  of  your  heart  subject 
you  to  the  influence  of  opinions  from  men  in  every  respect  your 
inferiors.  Something  must  be  attempted  before  the  sixty  days 
expire  which  the  commissioners  have  allowed  ;  for,  however  many 
affect  to  despise  it,  it  is  evident  that  a  very  serious  attention  is 
paid  to  it,  and  I  am  confident  that  unless  some  more  favourable 
appearance  attends  our  arms  and  cause  before  that  time,  a  very 
large  number  of  the  militia  officers  here  will  follow  the  example 
of  those  of  Jersey  and  take  benefit  from  it.  I  will  not  disguise 
my  own  sentiments,  that  our  cause  is  desperate  and  hopeless,  if 
we  do  not  take  the  opportunity  of  the  collection  of  troops  at 
present,  to  strike  some  stroke.  Our  affairs  are  hastening  fast  to 
ruin  if  we  do  not  retrieve  them  by  some  happy  event.  Delay 
with  us  is  now  equal  to  a  total  defeat.  Be  not  deceived,  my  dear 
General,  with  small,  flattering  appearances ;  we  must  not  suffer 
ourselves  to  be  lulled  into  security  and  inaction,  because  the 
enemy  does  not  cross  the  river.  It  is  but  a  reprieve  ;  the  execu- 
tion is  the  more  certain,  for  I  am  very  clear  that  they  can  and 
will  cross  the  river,  in  spite  of  any  opposition  we  can  give  them. 

Pardon  the  freedom  I  have  used.  The  love  of  my  country,  a 
wife  and  four  children  in  the  enemy's  hands,  the  respect  and 
attachment  I  have  to  you,  the  ruin  and  poverty  that  must  attend 
me,  and  thousands  of  others  will  plead  my  excuse  for  so  much 
freedom.  I  am  with  the  greatest  respect  and  regard,  dear  sir 
Your  obedient  and  affectionate  humble  servant 

Joseph  Reed. 


No.  29.    General  Washington  to  Colonel  Reed. 

23  December  1776 

Dear  Sir  : 

The  bearer  is  sent  down  to  know  whether  your  plan  was 
attempted  last  night  and  if  not  to  inform  you,  that  Christmas-day  at 
night,  one  hour  before  day  is  the  time  fixed  upon  for  our  attempt 
on  Trenton.  For  Heaven's  sake  keep  this  to  yourself,  as  the 
discovery  of  it  may  prove  fatal  to  us,  our  numbers,  sorry  am  I  to 
say,  being  less  than  I  had  any  conception  of :  but  necessity,  dire 
necessity,  will,  nay  must,  justify  an  attempt.  Prepare,  and,  in 
concert  with  Griffin,  attack  as  many  of  their  posts  as  you  possibly 
can  with  a  prospect  of  success  :  the  more  we  can  attack  at  the 
same  instant,  the  more  confusion  we  shall  spread  and  greater 
good  will  result  from  it.  If  I  had  not  been  fully  convinced  before 
of  the  enemy's  designs,  I  have  now  ample  testimony  of  their 
intentions  to  attack  Philadelphia,  so  soon  as  the  ice  will  afford 
the  means  of  conveyance. 

As  the  Colonels  of  the  Continental  Regiments  might  kick  up 
some  dust  about  command,  unless  Cadwalader  is  considered  by 
them  in  the  light  of  a  brigadier,  which  I  wish  him  to  be,  I  desired 
General  Gates,  who  is  unwell,  and  applied  for  leave  to  go  to  Phila- 
delphia, to  endeavour,  if  his  health  would  permit  him,  to  call  and 
stay  two  or  three  days  at  Bristol  in  his  way.  I  shall  not  be  par- 
ticular :  we  could  not  ripen  matters  for  our  attack  before  the  time 
mentioned  in  the  first  part  of  this  letter  :  -so  much  out  of  sorts 
and  so  much  in  want  of  everything  are  the  troops  under  Sullivan 
&c.  Let  me  know  by  a  careful  express  the  plan  you  are  to  pur- 
sue. The  letter  herewith  sent,  forward  on  to  Philadelphia :  I 
could  wish  it  to  be  in  time  for  the  Southern  post's  departure, 
which  will  be  I  believe  by  eleven  o'clock  tomorrow. 

I  am,  dear  Sir,  Your  most  obedient  servant 

Go.  Washington 

P.  S.  —  I  have  ordered  our  men  to  be  provided  with  three 
days'  provisions  ready  cooked,  with  which  and  their  blankets 
they  are  to  march  :  for  if  we  are  successful,  which  Heaven  grant 
and  the  circumstances  favor,  we  may  push  on.  I  shall  direct 
every  ferry  and  ford  to  be  well  guarded,  and  not  a  soul  suffered 



to  pass  without  an  officer's  going  down  witli  the  permit.     Do  the 
same  with  you. 

To  Joseph   Reed,  Esq,  —  or  in  his  absence  to  Jno.  Cadwalader,  Esq, 
only,  at  Bristol. 

No.  30.    Quartermaster  Gamble's  Circulars. 

BuRDENTOWN  December  24th  1776 
The  General  commanding  in  Chief  his  Majesteys  Forces  in 
New  Jersey,  in  order  to  encourage  the  Inliabitants  to  supply  the 
Troops  with  necessaries  has  thought  proper  to  establish  the  fol- 
lowing prices  to  be  paid  in  Gold  and  Silver  for  the  Articles  here- 
after mentioned  and  from  the  generous  prices  fixed  it  is  to  be 
hoped  that  the  Inhabitants  will  cheerfully  furnish  the  supplies  in 
order  to  prevent  the  disagreeable  alternative  of  having  them 
seized  by  foraging  Parties.  The  Inhabitants  living  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  Trenton  are  to  deliver  their  Produce  to  Mr.  Palmer 
Commissary  at  that  Place  and  those  living  near  Bordentown  are 
to  deliver  their  Produce  to  Mr.  MacCulloch  Commissary,  and 
those  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Burlington  to  Mr.  Johnstone  Com- 
missary in  that  place. 

Hay  taken  from  the  Farmer 
do.    delivered  by  the  Farmer 
Oats  delivered  by  the  Farmer 
do.    taken  from  the  Farmer's  house 
Indian  Corn  delivered  by  the  Farmer 

do.      taken  from  the  house 
Wheat  delivered  by  the  Farmer 

do      taken  from  the  house 
Flour  New  York  inspection  delivered 

do     taken  from  the  mill 
Bran  delivered 
do.  taken  from  the  mill 

1  (Captain  Gamble  (47th  Foot)  sent  a  copy  of  this  circular  with  the 
following  letter  to  Colonel  von  Donop,  who  was  then  at  IVIount  Holly.) 


(j:  Ton 


jf    do 


(!  bushel 


if:     do 


^    do 


i.    do 


<f.    do 


f    do 


^  Ct,  wt 


<f.    do 


^     do 

9   I/: 



i  hundred 

25  or  30/4  (4       do 

Thqs  Gamble  ^ 


Jlf.  General 


BURDENTOWN,  Dec.  24th  1776 


I  do  myself  the  honour  to  inclose  you  some  intelligence  re- 
ceived from  the  other  side  of  the  River,  I  believe  from  very  good 
authority.  I  also  inclose  the  prices  fixed  by  General  Grant  for 
the  different  articles  furnished  the  Troops  by  the  Inhabitants  of 
this  province  copies  of  which  I  shall  take  care  to  have  dispersed 
throughout  the  District  under  your  command.  The  Inhabitants 
begin  to  bring  in  supplies  and  our  Magazine  fills,  so  that  I  hope 
we  shall  not  be  reduced  to  the  dissagreeable  necessity  of  sending 
out  Forage  parties.  The  Commander  in  chief  has  issued  orders 
for  paying  the  Troops  165  Day's  Batt.  and  Forage  money,  as  a 
douceur  for  their  service  during  the  campaign.  You  will  there- 
fore, Sir,  be  pleased  to  give  the  commanding  Officers  of  Corps 
orders  to  have  their  returns  in  readiness  for  that  purpose. 

I  did  myself  the  honour  to  write  you  a  short  note  the  night 
before  last,  inclosing  you  some  intelligence  and  begging  to  know 
if  you  had  any  Commands  for  me.  I  was  in  hopes  you  would 
have  allowed  me  to  have  attended  you  to  Mountholly. 

Mr.  Donop  has  brought  directions  for  Mr.  Laurence  ^  to  come 
to  you  he  sets  out  early  tomorrow  morning  for  that  purpose  and 
if  you  think  Mr.  Galloway "  can  be  of  any  service  he  will  with 
great  pleasure  attend  you. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be  with  great  respect  Your  most  obed't 
h'lle  serv't 

Th°s  Gamble 

No.  31.    Colonel  John  Cadwalader's  Division. 
Colonel  Daniel  Hitchcock'' s  Brigade. 

Eleventh  regiment.  Continental  foot  (formerly  Second  Rhode 
Island  regiment).  Colonel,  Daniel  Hitchcock  (comdg.  brig.) ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel,  Ezekiel  Cornell  (detached  D.  A.  G.  Cent. 
Army)  ;  Major,  Israel  Angell  (comdg.  regt.).  18  commissioned 
officers  and  129  enlisted  men  present. 

Fourth  regiment,  Continental  foot  —  Massachusetts  regiment. 

1  Probably  Lieutenant  Moritz  von  Donop  of  the  Hessian  yagers 
and  Dr.  John  Lawrence  of  Monmouth  County,  New  Jersey,  an  ardent 

^  Joseph  Galloway,  the  distinguished  Philadelphia  loyalist. 


Colonel,    ■ • ;    Lieutenant-Colonel,    Thomas    Nixon ;    Major, 

Andrew  Colburn.  The  lieutenant-colonel  in  command,  although 
about  this  time  he  was  commissioned  colonel  of  the  regiment,  to 
rank  August  9,  1776,  the  former  colonel,  John  Nixon,  having 
been  made  a  brigadier-general  August  9,  1776.  The  major  was 
absent,  having  been  wounded  at  Harlem  Heights,  October  12, 
1776.  He  had  been  commissioned  lieutenant-colonel  of  the  Third 
New  Hampshire  regiment,  but  was  still  borne  on  the  rolls  of  this 
regiment.  (He  was  mortally  wounded  at  the  battle  of  Stillwater, 
September  19,  1777.)  17  commissioned  officers  and  184  enlisted 
men  present. 

Ninth   regiment,  Continental   foot  —  Rhode   Island  regiment. 

Colonel,    ;    Lieutenant-Colonel,    Archibald    Crary ;    Major, 

Christopher  Smith.  The  lieutenant-colonel  in  command ;  major 
absent,  and  Colonel  James  M.  Varnum  also  absent,  having  been 
promoted  brigadier-general  of  the  Rhode  Island  State  troops, 
December  10,  1776.  Christopher  Greene,  the  first  lieutenant- 
colonel  of  this  regiment,  had  been  taken  prisoner  in  Canada, 
December  31,  1775,  and  was  not  yet  exchanged.  The  office  of 
colonel  was  left  vacant  to  be  filled  by  him.  16  commissioned 
officers  and  148  enlisted  men  present. 

Twelfth  regiment.  Continental  foot  —  Massachusetts  regiment. 
Colonel,  Moses  Little ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  William  Henshaw ; 
Major,  James  Collins.  The  lieutenant-colonel  in  command  ;  major 
absent,  and  colonel  in  charge  of  a  detachment  of  sick  at  Peek- 
skill,  New  York.  18  commissioned  officers  and  134  enlisted  men 

Rhode  Island  regiment  State  troops.    Colonel,  Christopher  Lip- 

pitt ;  Lieutenant-Colonel, ;  Major,  James  Tew.    The  colonel 

in  command,  and  major  absent.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Comstock, 
originally  of  this  regiment,  had  been  transferred  to  the  First 
Rhode  Island  regiment,  October  28,  1776,  and  the  vacancy  in  the 
office  of  lieutenant-colonel  had  not  been  filled.  28  commissioned 
officers  and  193  enlisted  men  present. 

The  total  effective  strength  of  this  brigade  was  89  officers  and 
788  men. 

Philadelphia  Battalions  of  Associators. 

First  battalion.  Colonel,  Jacob  Morgan,  Jr. ;  I,ieutenant-Colo- 
nel,  William  Coates  ;  Major,  Joseph  Cowperthwaite. 


Second  battalion.  Colonel,  John  Bayard  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel, 
John  Cox ;  Major,  William  Bradford. 

Third  battalion.  Colonel,  John  Cadwalader  ;  Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel, John  Nixon  ;  First  Major,  Samuel  Meredith  ;  Second  Major, 
Robert  Knox. 

First  company  of  artillery.  Captain,  Wingate  Newman  ;  Cap- 
tain-Lieutenant, William  Baxter ;  Second  Lieutenant,  Nathaniel 
Wallace ;  Second  Lieutenant,  John  Sober. 

Second  company  of  artillery.  Captain,  Jehu  Eyre  ;  First  Lieu- 
tenant, William  Brown;  Second  Lieutenant,  John  Brown ;  Second 
Lieutenant,  Samuel  Williams. 

All  the  field  and  company  officers  above  mentioned  were  pre- 
sent for  duty. 

Also  attached  to  Colonel  Cadwalader's  division  were  :  — 

Detachment  of  Philadelphia  rifle  battalion.  Colonel  Timothy 
Matlack,  commanding. 

Four  companies  Philadelphia  city  militia.  Captain  George 
Henry,  senior  officer,  commanding. 

Kent  County,  Delaware,  militia  company.  Captain  Thomas 
Rodney,  commanding. 

The  total  effective  force  of  the  three  battalions  of  Associators, 
the  companies  of  artillery,  the  rifle  battalion,  and  the  militia  of 
Philadelphia  and  of  Kent  County,  Delaware,  was  about  looo 

No.  32.    Brigadier-General  James  Ewing's  Division. 
Brigade  of  Pe7iiisylvania  Militia  of  the  Flying  Camp. 

Cumberland  County  regiment.  Colonel,  Frederick  Watts 
commanding  ;   Lieutenant-Colonel,   Samuel  Culbertson  present ; 

Major,  .      27  commissioned  officers  and  162  enlisted  men 

present;  114  men  absent,  sick  or  on  extra  duty. 

Lancaster  County  regiment.  Colonel,  Jacob  Klotz  ;  Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel, Thomas  Murray ;  Major,  John  Boyd.  The  colonel 
in  command,  major  present  and  lieutenant-colonel  absent.  18 
commissioned  officers  and  151  enlisted  men  present;  33  men 
absent,  sick  or  on  extra  duty. 

Cumberland  County  regiment.  Colonel,  William  Montgomery; 
Lieutenant-Colonel, ;  Major, .  The  colonel  in  com- 
mand ;  no  other  field  officers  in  commission.     15  commissioned 


officers  and  139  enlisted  men  present ;  149  men  absent,  sick,  on 
extra  duty  or  on  furlough. 

York  County  regiment.  Colonel,  Richard  McAllister;  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel,   ;    Major,  John  Clark,  Jr.     The  colonel   in 

command,  and  major  detached  for  duty  as  aide-de-camp  to  Major- 
General  Greene  ;  no  lieutenant-colonel  in  commission.  15  com- 
missioned officers  and  97  enlisted  men  present;  77  men  absent, 
sick,  on  extra  duty  or  on  furlough. 

Chester  County  regiment.  Colonel,  James  Moore  ;  Lieutenant- 
Colonel,  George  Smith ;  Major,  Solomon  Bush.  The  major  in 
command;  colonel  and  lieutenant-colonel  absent.  17  commis- 
sioned officers  and  84  enlisted  men  present;  75  men  absent,  sick, 
on  extra  duty  or  on  furlough. 

The  total  strength  of  this  brigade  was  92  officers  and  633  men, 
with  277  soldiers  fit  for  duty. 

To  this  force  must  be  added  a  small  body  of  from  300  to  500 
men  of  the  Pennsylvania  and  New  Jersey  militia. 

Pennsylvania  militia  —  Detachment  Bucks  County  regiment. 
Colonel,  Joseph  Hart. 

New  Jersey  militia.  Brigadier-General  Philemon  Dickinson, 
commanding;  Brigade  Major,  Roberts  Hoops;  Captain  and 
Aid-de-camp,  Frederick  Frelinghuysen. 

Detachment  First  regiment,  Hunterdon  County.  Colonel, 
Isaac  Smith  ;   Major,  Joseph  Phillips. 

Detachment  Second  regiment,  Middlesex  County.  Colonel, 
John' Neilson  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Richard  Lott ;  First  Major, 
John  Taylor ;  Second  Major,  John  Van  Emburgh. 

No.  33.  General  Officers  of  the  American  Revolution. 
Major-General  John  Sullivan,  tvho  was  of  Irish  parentage,  was 
born  February  17,  1740,  in  Berwick,  in  what  is  now  the  State  of 
Maine.  He  studied  law,  and  when  the  war  broke  out  was  set- 
tled in  New  Hampshire.  On  June  22,  1775,  he  was  made  a  brig- 
adier-general in  the  Continental  array,  and  on  August  9,  1776, 
was  promoted  to  the  rank  of  major-general.  During  the  war 
we  find  him  ever  doing  his  duty  fearlessly.  He  was  a  popular 
officer,  of  gentlemanly  manners,  and  a  soldier  of  great  daring  and 
determination,  prompt  and  precise  in  carrying  out.  implicitly 
all  instructions  given  him.  His  staff  at  this  time  consisted  of 
Major  William   Stephens   Smith,  aide-de-camp  and  acting  adju- 


tant-general ;  Major  Nicholas  Van  Cortland,  aide-de-camp  ;  Major 
Lewis  Morris,  Jr.,  aide-de-camp ;  Major  Edward  Sherburne, 
aide-de-camp;  Major  John  White,  aide-de-camp.  (Both  Major 
Sherburne  and  Major  White  were  afterward  killed  at  the  battle  of 
Germantown,  October  4,  1777.) 

Major-General  Nathanael  Greene  was  of  Quaker  descent, 
and  was  born  in  the  town  of  Warwick,  Rhode  Island,  June  6, 
1742.  Although  at  this  time  but  thirty-four  years  of  age,  he  held 
a  responsible  commission  in  the  Continental  army.  He  had 
entered  the  army  in  the  first  days  of  the  war,  and  was  made  a 
major-general  by  Congress  August  9,  1776.  He  distinguished 
himself  in  the  battles  of  Trenton  and  Princeton,  as  well  as  at 
Brandywine,  Germantown  and  Monmouth,  and  was  then  placed 
in  full  command  of  the  Southern  Department.  He  was  without 
doubt  one  of  the  ablest  and  truest  of  the  men  who  surrounded 
the  commanding  general.  He  had  a  clear  and  fertile  brain,  and 
was  ever  ready  and  willing  to  do  what  he  could  for  the  cause  of 
liberty.  In  all  the  miserable  cabals  which  afterward  disgraced 
the  American  arms,  no  taint  of  connection  with  any  intrigue  ever 
clung  to  the  noble  Greene.  The  glory  which  his  good  sword  won 
still  remains  with  unfading  lustre  around  his  name,  although  his 
body  sleeps  in  what  is  now  an  unknown  grave.  It  has  "been 
truthfully  said  of  him  that  "  he  carried  in  his  native  genius  all 
the  resources  of  war  and  the  balance  of  every  extreme  of  fortune." 
Even  Lord  Cornwallis  gave  this  encomium  to  his  practical  gen- 
eralship :  "  Greene  is  as  dangerous  as  Washington  :  He  is  vigi- 
lant, enterprising  and  full  of  resources.  With  but  little  hope  of 
gaining  any  advantage  over  him  I  never  feel  secure  when  en- 
camped in  his  neighbourhood."  The  aides-de-camp  on  his  staff 
were  Major  William  Blodget,  Major  William  Livingston,  Major 
John  Clark,  Jr. 

Brigadier-General  Lord  Stirling,  whose  correct  name  was  Wil- 
liam Alexander,  but  who  claimed  a  title  from  the  English  crown, 
and  immense  tracts  in  Nova  Scotia,  was  yet  a  soldier  whose 
every  impulse  was  directed  by  his  devotion  to  his  country's  free- 
dom. He  was  a  native  of  New  York,  was  born  in  1726,  and  had 
seen  service  in  the  French  and  Indian  War  on  the  staff  of  Gen- 
eral Shirley,  but  his  home  was  near  Baskingridge  in  Somerset 
County,  New  Jersey.  His  wife  was  a  sister  of  Governor  Living- 
ston of  that  State.    He  was  colonel  of  the  First  battalion,  Somer- 


set  militia,  at  the  breaking  out  of  the  war  ;  was  appointed  colonel 
of  the  First  battalion,  New  Jersey  Continental  line,  November  7, 
1775.  brigadier-general  by  Congress,  March  11,  1776,  and  major- 
general  nearly  a  year  later.  As  before  mentioned,  he  had  been 
captured  at  the  battle  of  Long  Island,  but  was  exchanged  within 
a  mohth,  and  immediately  rejoined  his  command.  He  was  per- 
sonally a  brave  soldier,  fearless  in  duty,  strong  in  principles,  and 
a  well-educated  and  honorable  man.  The  aide-de-camp  of  Gen- 
eral Lord  Stirling  was  Lieutenant  John  Brent  of  the  Third  Vir- 
ginia regiment. 

Brigadier-General  Matthias  Alexis  Roche  de  Fermoy  was  for 
many  years  an  officer  of  engineers  in  the  army  of  France,  where 
he  enjoyed  a  considerable  reputation.  With  the  restless  ambition 
of  a  soldier  of  fortune  he  came  to  America,  and  was  made  a  brig- 
adier-general by  Congress,  November  5,  1776.  He  took  part  in 
the  battle  of  Saratoga,  and  acted,  as  at  Trenton,  in  a  very  ques- 
tionable manner.  He  made  a  request  of  the  Continental  Con- 
gress, December  30,  1777,  for  promotion  to  the  rank  of  major- 
general,  but  it  was  refused. 

Brigadier-General  Adam  Stephen  was  an  officer  from  Virginia 
who  had  acquired  an  excellent  reputation  as  lieutenant-colonel  of 
Colonel  Washington's  regiment  in  the  French  and  Indian  war, 
that  great  preparatory  school  for  officers  of  the  Continental  army, 
and  who  had  been  made  a  brigadier-general  by  Congress,  Septem- 
ber 4,  1776.  He  fought  well  at  Trenton,  was  made  a  major-general 
of  the  Continental  army,  February  19,  1777,  and  took  part  in  the 
battle  of  Brandywincj  but  it  is  said  that  his  intemperate  habits 
brought  him  under  a  cloud  at  the  battle  of  Germantown  ;  he  was 
dismissed  November  20,  1777,  and  thereafter  his  name  is  not 
mentioned  in  military  history. 

Brigadier-General  Arthur  St.  Clair  was  born  in  Edinburgh, 
Scotland,  in  the  year  1734.  He  held  a  subaltern's  commission  in 
the  army  under  General  Wolfe,  but  in  January,  1776,  he  was  made 
a  colonel  of  the  Second  Pennsylvania  battalion.  Continental  line, 
and  in  the  following  August  a  brigadier-general  of  the  Continental 
army.  Soon  after  the  battle  of  Princeton  Congress  conferred  on 
him  the  rank  of  major-general,  after  which  he  commanded  a  divi- 
sion of  Pennsylvania  troops.  His  subsequent  history  was  full  of 
trouble.  He  was  tried  by  court-martial  for  cowardice  and  treach- 
ery, but  was  fully  acquitted,  and  lived  for  some  years  in  great 


poverty,  his  proud  spirit  overwlielmed  witli  unmerited  disgrace. 
General  St.  Clair's  aide-de-camp  in  this  campaign  was  Major 
James  Wilkinson,  formerly  aide-de-camp  to  Major-General  Gates. 

Colonel  Paul  Dudley  Sargent  was  born  in  Salem,  Massachu- 
setts, in  1745.  He  entered  early  into  the  struggle  for  independ- 
ence, and  commanded  a  regiment  at  the  siege  of  Boston.  He 
was  wounded  at  the  battle  of  Bunker  Hill,  and  after  the  battle  of 
White  Plains  commanded  a  brigade  of  Continental  troops.  Colo- 
nel Sargent  was  considered  a  brave  and  skillful  officer.  He  died 
in  Sullivan,  Maine,  September  15,  1828. 

Colonel  John  Stark  was  born  August  28,  1728,  in  Londonderry, 
New  Hampshire.  He  fought  bravely  at  Bunker  Hill.  After  the 
battles  of  Trenton  and  Princeton  he  resigned,  but  in  a  few  months 
led  the  New  Hampshire  troops  at  Bennington,  and  then  as  a 
brigadier-general  of  the  Continental  army  joined  General  Gates 
with  a  strong  force.  He  was  gallant  and  courageous,  always 
ready  and  eager  for  action,  and  with  difficulty  brooked  restraint 
when  once  he  caught  sight  of  the  enemies  of  his  country.  In 
appearance  he  resembled  an  Indian,  with  his  tall  figure,  large 
nose  and  high  cheek  bones.  He  died  in  Manchester,  New 
Hampshire,  May  8,  1822.- 

Colonel  John  Glover  of  Marblehead,  Massachusetts,  owned  a 
number  of  vessels,  and  before  the  war  was  extensively  engaged  in 
the  fishing  trade.  His  regiment  was  recruited  from  the  hardy 
class  of  men  whom  he  was  accustomed  to  employ  in  his  business 
life.  His  command  was  always  efficient,  and  had  more  than  the 
usual  discipline.  Colonel  Glover  was  small  in  stature,  and  as 
Major-General  the  Chevalier  de  Chastellux  writes,  was  "  an  active 
and  a  good  soldier.'' 

Colonel  Henry  Knox  was  a  Boston  bookseller,  and  only  twenty- 
six  years  of  age  at  the  date  of  the  battles  of  Trenton  and  Prince- 
ton. He  was  a  volunteer  at  the  battle  of  Bunker  Hill,  and  was 
afterward  made  colonel  of  a  regiment  of  Continental  artillery. 
He  is  always  spoken  of  as  the  soul  of  honor,  sincere,  open- 
hearted,  benevolent  and  brave.  It  is  greatly  to  his  credit  that 
General  Washington  held  him  in  the  highest  esteem,  not  only  as 
a  soldier  but  as  Secretary  of  War  and  Navy,  in  his  cabinet. 


No.  34.    Field  Officers  of  Troops  under  Washington's 
Immediate  Command. 

Brigadier-General  Lord  Stirling's  Brigade. 

First  regiment,  Virginia  Continental  infantry.     Colonel,  James 

Read  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  ;  Major,  John  Green.     Captain 

John  Fleming,  senior  officer,  in  command.  All  the  field  officers 
absent,  Lieutenant-Colonel  Francis  Eppes  having  been  killed  at 
the  battle  of  Long  Island,  August  27,  1776,  and  the  major  suffer- 
ing from  wounds  received  at  the  battle  of  White  Plains,  October 
28,  1776.  31  commissioned  officers  and  154  enlisted  men  pre- 
sent; 329  men  absent,  sick,  on  extra  duty  or  on  furlough. 

Delaware  regiment,  Continental  infantry.  Colonel,  John  Has- 
let ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Gunning  Bedford  ;  Major,  Thomas  Mc- 
Donough.  The  colonel  in  command  ;  lieutenant-colonel  and 
major  absent,  the  latter  on  account  of  wounds  received  at  the 
battle  of  Long  Island,  August  27,  1776.  10  commissioned  offi- 
cers and  98  enlisted  men  present;  32  men  absent,  sick. 

Third  regiment,  Virginia  Continental  infantry.  Colonel, 
George  Weedon  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Thomas  Marshall ;  Major, 
William  Taliaferro.  The  colonel  in  command;  major  present; 
lieutenant-colonel  absent.  21  commissioned  officers  and  160 
enlisted  men  present ;  452  men  absent,  sick,  on  extra  duty  or 
on  furlough. 

First  Pennsylvania  rifle  regiment  volunteers.     Colonel, ; 

Lieutenant-Colonel,  ;  Major,  Ennion  Williams.     The  major 

in  command.  The  last  colonel,  Samuel  Miles,  and  lieutenant- 
colonel,  James  Piper,  prisoners  of  war,  had  been  captured  at  the 
battle  of  Long  Island,  August  27,  1776,  and  Lieutenant-Colonel 
Piper  had  died  September,  1776,  in  captivity.  19  commissioned 
officers  and  180  enlisted  men  present;  305  men  absent,  sick, 
wounded,  on  extra  duty  or  on  furlough.  This  regiment  and  the 
Pennsylvania  regiment  of  musketry  commanded  by  Colonel  Sam- 
uel J.  Atlee  were  nearly  destroyed  at  the  battle  of  Long  Island. 
The  remnant  of  Colonel  Atlee's  command  was  then  assigned  to 
duty  with  this  command. 

The  total  effective  strength  of  this  brigade  was  81  officers  and 
S92  men. 


Brigadier- General  Roche  de  Fermoyi's  Brigade. 

First  regiment,  Continental  foot  —  Pennsylvania  rifle  regiment. 
Colonel,  Edward  Hand ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  James  Chambers ; 
Major,  James  Ross.  The  colonel  in  command  ;  major  present ; 
lieutenant-colonel  absent.  28  commissioned  officers  and  236  en- 
listed men  present;  326  men  absent,  sick,  on  extra  duty  or  on 

German  regiment.  Continental  infantry.  This  organization 
was  raised  in  Maryland  and  Pennsylvania.  Colonel,  Nicholas 
Haussegger  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  George  Strieker  ;  Major,  Ludo- 
wick  Weltner.  All  field  officers  present.  40  commissioned  offi- 
cers and  334  enlisted  men  present ;  75  men  absent,  sick,  on  extra 
duty  or  on  furlough. 

The  total  effective  strength  of  this  brigade  was  68  officers  and 
570  men. 

Brigadier-  General  Hugh  Mercer's  Brigade. 

Twentieth  regiment.  Continental  foot  —  Connecticut  regiment. 

Colonel,  John  Durkee  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel, ;  Major,  Thomas 

Dyer.  The  colonel  in  command;  major  present.  The  lieu- 
tenant-colonel had  been,  as  General  Washington  wrote,  "the 
gallant  and  brave  Colonel  Knowlton,  who  would  have  been  an 
honour  to  any  country,"  who  was  mortally  wounded  at  Harlem 
Heights,  September  16,  1776.  30  commissioned  officers  and  283 
enlisted  men  present;  217  men  absent,  sick,  on  extra  duty  or  on 

First  Maryland  regiment.  Continental  infantry.  Colonel,  Fran- 
cis Ware ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  John  H.  Stone ;  Major,  Patrick 
Sim.  The  colonel  and  major  absent.  The  last  colonel  of  this 
regiment,  William  Smallwood,  had  been  made  a  brigadier-general, 
October  23,  1776,  wounded  five  days  afterward  at  the  battle  of 
White  Plains,  and  at  this  time  sent  to  Maryland  to  arouse  the 
people.  The  lieutenant-colonel  was  in  command  of  the  regiment. 
In  after  years  he  was  the  governor  of  Maryland.  5  commissioned 
officers  and  158  enlisted  men  present;  lo  men  absent,  sick  or  on 

Twenty-seventh  regiment.  Continental  foot  —  Massachusetts 
regiment.  Colonel,  Israel  Hutchinson;  Lieutenant- Colonel, 
Benjamin   Holden ;   Major,   Ezra  Putnam.     The  major  in  com- 


mand ;  colonel  and  lieutenant-colonel  absent.  17  commissioned 
officers  and  98  enlisted  men  present ;  292  men  absent,  sick  or  on 

Colonel  Bradley's  battalion,  Connecticut  state  troops.  Colonel, 
Philip  Burr  Bradley;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Thomas  Hobby;  Major, 
David  Dimon.  All  field  officers  absent ;  colonel  sick  at  home ; 
lieutenant-colonel  a  prisoner  Of  war,  and  suffering  from  wounds 
received  at  Fort  Washington,  November  16,  1776,  and  major  on 
duty  at  Albany,  New  York.  Captain  Benjamin  Mills,  senior  offi'- 
cer,  in  command.  18  commissioned  officers  and  124  enlisted  men 
present ;  231  men  absent,  sick,  on  extra  duty,  on  furlough  or  pris- 
oners of  war. 

Maryland  rifle  battalion  volunteers.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Com- 
mandant, Moses  Rawlings.  The  lieutenant-colonel  absent,  suf- 
fering from  wounds  received  at  Fort  Washington,  November  16, 
1776.  Captain  David  Harris,  senior  officer,  in  command.  3  com- 
missioned officers  and  102  enlisted  men  present ;  19  men  absent, 

The  total  effective  strength  of  this  brigade  was  73  officers  and 
765  men. 

Bngadier-Ge7ieral  Adam  Stephen's  Brigade. 

Fourth  regiment,  Virginia-  Continental  infantry.  Colonel, 
Thomas  Elliott ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Robert  Lawson  ;  Major, 
John  Sayres.  The  lieutenant-colonel  in  command ;  colonel  and 
major  absent.  (The  major  was  killed  at  the  battle  of  German- 
town,  October  4,  1777.)  31  commissioned  officers  and  ig8  en- 
listed men  present ;  33  men  absent,  sick  or  on  extra  duty. 

Fifth  regiment,  Virginia  Continental  infantry.  Colonel, 
Charles  Scott ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Josiah  Parker  ;  Major,  George 
Johnston.  All  field  officers  present.  14  commissioned  officers 
and  115  enlisted  men  present;  25  men  absent,  sick  or  on  extra 

Sixth  regiment,  Virginia  Continental  infantry.  Colonel,  Mor- 
decai  Buckner ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  James  Hendricks ;  Major, 
Richard  Parker.  The  colonel  in  command ;  lieutenant-colonel 
present;  major  absent.  25  commissioned  officers  and  166  en- 
listed men  present ;  58  men  absent,  sick  or  on  extra  duty. 

The  total  effective  strength  of  the  brigade  was  70  officers  and 
479  men. 


Brigadier-General  Arthicr  St.  Clair's  Brigade. 

Fifth  regiment,  Continental  foot  —  formerly  First  New 
Hampshire  regiment.  Colonel,  John  Stark ;  Lieutenant-Colonel, 
Thomas  Poor ;  Major,  John  Moore.  The  colonel  in  command. 
About  no  men  fit  for  duty. 

Eighth  regiment,  Continental  foot  —  formerly  Second  New 
Hampshire  regiment.  Colonel,  Enoch  Poor ;  Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel, John  McDuffie ;  Major,  Joseph  Cilley.  90  effective  men  in 
this  regiment. 

Second   regiment,    Continental    foot  —  formerly    Third    New 

Hampshire  regiment.     Colonel, ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Israel 

Oilman ;  Major,  Nathan  Hale.  The  lieutenant-colonel  in  com- 
mand. The  last  colonel,  James  Reed,  had  been  commissioned  a 
brigadier-general,  August  9,  1776,  and  was  absent  with  a  detach- 
ment of  convalescents,  "lame  and  ragged,"  at  Peekskill,  New 
York.  About  this  time,  he  was  "  struck  with  blindness,"  and 
was  obliged  to  leave  the  service.     About  135  men  on  duty. 

Fifteenth  regiment,  Continental  foot — Massachusetts  regi- 
ment. Colonel,  John  Paterson  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Seth  Read; 
Major,  Henry  Sherburne  (of  Rhode  Island).  The  colonel  in 
command  ;  lieutenant-colonel  and  major  absent.  The  lieutenant- 
colonel  had  become  insane.     170  men  present  for  service. 

The  total  effective  strength  of  the  brigade  was  about  500  men. 

Colonel  Paul  D.  Sargent's  Brigade. 

Sixteenth  regiment.  Continental  foot  —  Massachusetts  regi- 
ment.      Colonel,    Paul    Dudley    Sargent;    Lieutenant  -  Colonel, 

Michael  Jackson  ;  Major, .     The  colonel  in  command  of  the 

brigade  ;  lieutenant-colonel  absent,  wounded  at  Montressor's  Is- 
land, September  24,  1776.  The  regiment  had  no  major,  as  Major 
Jonathan  \'\'.  Austin  had  been  cashiered  November  13,  1776. 
Captain  James  Perry,  senior  officer,  in  command.  17  commis- 
sioned officers  and  135  enlisted  men  present;  313  men  absent, 
sick  or  on  extra  duty. 

Colonel  Ward's  regiment,  Connecticut  Continental  infantry. 
Colonel,  Andrew  Ward  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Obadiah  Johnson  ; " 

1  The  return  of  December  22,  1776,  in  Force's  Archives,  says  the 
heutenant-colonel  of  Colonel  Ward's  regiment  was  "present."  It  ap- 
pears by  Correspondence  and  Journals  of  Colonel  Samuel  B.  Webb, 


Major,  Thaddeus  Cook.  The  colonel  and  major  present.  13 
commissioned  officers  and  144  enlisted  men  present;  292  men 
absent,  sick,  on  extra  duty  or  on  furlough. 

Sixth  battalion,  Connecticut  State  troops.  Colonel,  John 
Chester  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Solomon  Wills  ;  Major,  John  Rip- 
ley. All  field  officers  present.  19  commissioned  officers  and  241 
enlisted  men  present.  This  battalion,  although  belonging  to 
Sargent's  brigade,  did  not  cross  the  river  on  Christmas  night, 
but  remained  on  the  Pennsylvania  side  of  the  Delaware. 

Thirteenth  regiment,  Continental  foot — Massachusetts  regi- 
ment. Colonel,  Joseph  Read;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Ebenezer 
Clap ;  Major,  Calvin  Smith.  The  lieutenant-colonel  in  com- 
mand;  major  present;  colonel  absent.  16  commissioned  officers 
and  106  enlisted  men  present;  337  men  absent,  sick,  on  extra 
duty  or  on  furlough. 

First   regiment.    New   York    Continental    infantry.     Colonel, 

;  Lieutenant-Colonel, ;  Major, .     This  regiment  is 

generally  known  as  Colonel  Alexander  McDougall's  regiment, 
although  he  had  been  promoted  brigadier-general  of  the  Conti- 
nental army,  August  9,  1776,  and  was  stationed  at  Morristown, 
New  Jersey.  Lieutenant-Colonel  Herman  Zedwitz  had  been 
cashiered  and  sent  to  prison,  November  22,  1776,  and  Major 
Barnabas  Tuthill  had  resigned,  September  4,  1776.  Captain  John 
Johnson  was  senior  officer  in  command  of  the  regiment.  11  com- 
missioned officers  and  45  enlisted  men  present ;  9  men  absent, 

Third  regiment.  New  York  Continental  infantry.  Colonel, 
Peter  Gansevoort ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Baron  Friedrich  von 
Weisenfels ;  Major,  Robert  Cochran.  The  lieutenant-colonel  in 
command;  colonel  and  major  absent.  15  commissioned  officers 
and  65  enlisted  men  present ;  16  men  absent,  sick. 

The  total  effective  strength  of  the  brigade  was  91  officers  and 

736  men. 

Coloneljohn  Glover's  Brigade. 

Fourteenth  regiment,  Continental  foot  —  Massachusetts  regi- 
ment, commonly  called  the  "  Marblehead  Regiment."  Colonel, 
vol.  ii.  p.  137,  that  Lieutenant-Colonel  Obadiah  Johnson  of  this  regi- 
ment obtained  a  furlough  to  go  home,  much  to  General  Washington's 
disgust.  It  is  difficult  to  say  whether  or  not  he  was  present  at  Trenton ; 
probably  he  was  not. 


John  Glover ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Gabriel  Johonnot ;  Major, 
William  R.  Lee.  The  major  in  command  ;  colonel  present  in 
command  of  the  brigade ;  lieutenant-colonel  absent.  30  com- 
missioned officers  and  147  enlisted  men  present ;  219  men  absent, 
sick  or  on  extra  duty. 

Third    regiment   Continental  foot  —  Massachusetts  regiment. 

Colonel,    ^\llIiam    Shepard ;    Lieutenant-Colonel, ;    Major, 

Ebenezer  Sprout.  The  colonel  in  command  and  major  present. 
22  commissioned  officers  and  195  enlisted  men  present ;  318  men 
absent,  sick,  on  extra  duty  or  on  furlough. 

Nineteenth  regiment  Continental  foot  —  Connecticut  regi- 
ment. Colonel,  Charles  Webb  ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Street  Hall; 
Major,  John  Brooks.  The  colonel  in  command  ;  major  present ; 
lieutenant-colonel  absent.  Major  Brooks,  afterwards  governor  of 
Massachusetts,  in  the  march  to  the  surprise  at  Trenton  was  over- 
come with  fatigue,  and  was  reluctantly  obliged  to  return  to  the 
encampment.  Captain  William  Hull  performed  his  duties.  22 
commissioned  officers  and  190  enlisted  men  present;  342  men 
absent,  sick,  on  extra  duty  or  on  furlough. 

Twenty-third  regiment.  Continental  foot  —  Massachusetts  regi- 
ment. Colonel,  John  Bailey;  lieutenant-colonel,  John  Jacobs; 
Major,  Josiah  Hayden.  The  colonel  in  command;  lieutenant- 
colonel  present;  major  absent.  17  commissioned  officers  and 
129  enlisted  men  present ;  353  men  absent,  sick  or  on  extra  duty. 

Twenty-sixth  regiment.  Continental  foot  —  Massachusetts  regi- 
ment. Colonel,  Loammi  Baldwin;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  James 
Wesson ;  Major,  Isaac  Sherman  (of  Connecticut).  All  field  offi- 
cers present.  24  commissioned  officers  and  197  enlisted  men 
present;  268  men  absent,  sick  or  on  extra  duty.  The  return  of 
December  29,  1776,  which  is  on  file  in  the  adjutant-general's 
office  at  Trenton,  differs  somewhat  from  the  inspection  before  the 
fight,  dated  December  22,  1776.  The  former  gives  23  officers  and 
190  men  in  this  regiment  in  the  expedition. 

The  total  effective  strength  of  the  brigade  was  115  officers  and 
858  men. 

K/wx's  Regiment  Continental  Artillery  and  State  Batteries  assigned 
to  this  Command. 

Colonel,  Henry  Knox;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  David  Mason; 
Major,  John  Crane ;  Major,  John  Lamb ;  First  Lieutenant,  Sam- 


uel  Shaw,  Adjutant ;  First  Lieutenant,  Samuel  Treat,  Quarter- 
master. All  present  except  Major  Crane,  who  had  been  wounded 
at  Corker's  Hook,  September  14,  1776. 

New  York  company  of  Continental  artillery.  Captain,  Sebas- 
tian Bauman  ;  Captain-Lieutenant,  Joseph  Crane  ;  First  Lieuten- 
ant, George  Fleming ;  Second  Lieutenant,  Jacob  Reed  ;  Second 
Lieutenant,  Cornelius  Swartwout.  This  company  had  about  80 
men  and  three  small  cannon. 

Massachusetts  company  of  Continental  artillery.  Captain, 
Thomas  Pierce  ;  Captain- Lieutenant,  Winthrop  Sargent ;  First 
Lieutenant,  Isaac  Packard ;  Second  Lieutenant,  David  Preston ; 
Second  Lieutenant,  Joseph  Blake.  The  captain-lieutenant  in 
command,  Captain  Pierce  being  absent,  wounded,  and  Lieutenant 
Blake,  a  prisoner  of  war,  captured  at  Fort  Washington,  Novem- 
ber 16,  1776.     This  battery  had  two  guns. 

New  York  State  company  of  artillery  —  late  provincial  com- 
pany.   Captain,  Alexander  Hamilton ;  Captain-Lieutenant,  James 

Moore ;    First   Lieutenant,   ;    Second   Lieutenant,    Thomas 

Deane  ;  Second  Lieutenant,  Thomas  Thompson.  The  captain  in 
command.  The  captain-lieutenant  was  sick  with  camp  fever  at 
the  house  of  Robert  Thompson,  Upper  Makefield  Township, 
Bucks  County,  Pennsylvania,  and  died  there  December  26,  1776. 
He  was  buried  near  the  mouth  of  Pidcock's  Creek.  First  Lieu- 
tenant James  Gilliland  had  resigned  in  December,  1776.  4  com- 
missioned officers  and  32  enlisted  men  present.  This  company 
had  two  guns. 

Eastern  company,  New  Jersey  State  artillery.  Captain,  Daniel 
Neil  j  Captain- Lieutenant,  John  Doughty  j  First  Lieutenant, 
Thomas  Clark ;  Second  Lieutenant,  John  Vandyke ;  Third 
Lieutenant,  Aaron  Clark.  The  captain  in  command.  The  cap- 
tain-lieutenant was  on  special  duty.  4  oflicers  and  59  enlisted 
men  present.     The  company  had  two  guns. 

Western  company.  New  Jersey  State  artillery.  Captain,  Samuel 
Hugg;  Captain-Lieutenant,  Thomas  Newark;  First  Lieutenant, 
John  Westcott ;  Second  Lieutenant,  Joseph  Dayton.  This  battery 
had  two  guns. 

Second  company  of  Pennsylvania  State  artillery  battalion. 
Captain,  Thomas  Forrest ;  First  Lieutenant,  Hercules  Courtney  j 
Second  Lieutenant,  Francis  Procter ;  Third  Lieutenant,  Patrick 
Duffy.     The  captain  and  third  lieutenant  and  50  enlisted  men 


present.  The  first  and  second  lieutenants  absent  on  detached 
duty.  Lieutenant  Courtney  remained  in  Philadelphia  with  Major 
Procter's  detachment,  and  was  made  captain  of  a  company. 
First  Lieutenant  Worsley  Eames  of  said  detachment  was  on  duty 
with  Captain  Forrest's  company.  This  company  was  equipped 
with  two  brass-mounted  six-pounders.'' 

Second  company  of  artillery  of  Philadelphia  Associators.  Cap- 
tain, Joseph  Moulder ;  First  Lieutenant,  U'illiam  Linnard  ;  Sec- 
ond Lieutenant,  Anthony  Cuthbert.  3  officers  and  82  enlisted 
men  present.     This  company  had  three  guns. 

Philadelphia  troop  of  light  horse.  Captain,  Samuel  Morris  ; 
Second  Lieutenant,  James  Budden ;  Cornet,  John  Dunlap.  3 
officers  and  22  enlisted  men  present. 

No.  35.   John  Honeyman. 

The  following  document  is  found  among  the  Revolutionary 
papers  filed  in  the  adjutant-general's  office  at  Trenton.  It  does 
not  appear  b)'  the  county  records  that  any  punishment  was  meted 
out  to  the  defendant  by  reason  of  these  charges. 

State  of  New  Jersey  ] 
Somerset  County        | 

To  wit.  An  Inquisition  taken  and  Made  in  the  Hilborough 
Township  of  the  said  County  of  Somerset  the  Ninth  day  of  June  in 
the  year  of  our  Lord  One  Thousand  Seven  Hundred  and  Seventy 
Eight,  By  the  oaths  of,  Henderick  Probasco,  Henderick  Stryker, 
Thomas  Skillman,  Reyneir  Veghte,  Peter  Stryker,  Jn°  Stryker, 
Cornelius  Lett,  Frederick  VanLew,  Laurance  VanCIeef,  William 
Baird,  Samuel  Geulick,  Uriah  VanCIeef,  Gerardes  Beekman,  Jn° 
Voorheese,  Abraham  Voorhees,  Abraham  Ditmass,  Abraham 
Beekman,  Christopher  Beekman,  Nathan  Allen,  Joest  Kershow, 
Garret  Voorheese,  Joseph  Hageman,  Garret  Terhune  Jr.  Martin 
Nevious,  Good  and  Lawful  men  of  the  Said  County,  Before  Edward 
Bunn  Esq'  one  of  the  Justices  of  the  Peace  of  the  said  County, 
Who  upon  their  Oath  aforesaid  say  that  John  Honeyman  of  the 
Eastern  Precinct  in  the  County  aforesaid  did  since  the  fifth  day 
of  October  one  thousand  Seven  Hundred  and  Seventy  Six  and 

'  The  Pennsylvania  Magazine,  No.  4,  vol.  iv.  p.  470,  shows  an  "  In- 
dent of  Stores  for  two  Six  pounders  sent  under  the  Command  of  Cap. 
Thomas  Forrest  To  Join  the  Grand  Army  at  Trentown  December  4th 

ONE    OF    WASHINGTON'S    SPIES    INDICTED        359 

Before  the  fifth  day  of  June  One  Thousand  Seven  Hundred  and 
Seventy  Seven  did  aid  and  comfort  the  Enemies  within  this  State 
against  tlie  form  of  the  allegiance  to  the  State  the  Government 
and  Dignity  of  the  Same. 

We  whose  names  are  hereunto  Set  and  Seals  affixed  being  the 
Juries  above  Named  do  upon  the  Evidence  to  us  produced  find 
the  Inquisition  aforesaid  True 

Hendrack  Probasco  (seal) 

Hendrick  Stryker  (seal) 

Thomas  Skillman  (seal) 

Reyneir  Veghte  (seal) 

Peter  Stryker  (seal) 

John  Stryker  (seal) 

CoRN^  Lott  (seal) 

Frederick^  VanLieu  (seal) 

Laurance  V  Cleef  (seal) 

William  Bard  (seal) 

Samuel  Gulick  (seal) 
Garret  Terhune  Jun''  (seal) 

Joseph  Hageman  (seal) 

Jurias  VanCleef  (seal) 

Gerardus  Beekman  (seal) 

John  Voorhees  (seal) 

Abraham  Voorhees  (seal) 

Abraham  Ditmars  (seal) 

Abraham  Beekman  (seal) 
Christopher  Beekman  (seal) 

Nathan  Allin  (seal) 

JosT  Kesciu  (seal) 

Garrit  Voorhees  (seal) 

Martinis  Nevyus  (seal) 

I  Do  Hereby  Certify  that  the  within  Inquisition  by  the  Juries 
therein  Named  this  Ninth  day  of  June  One  thousand  Seven  Hun- 
dred and  Seventy  Eight  before  me 

(Signed)  Edward  Bunn. 

The  Def  appeared  and  the  Inquisition  being  read,  &C  pleaded 
Not  Guilty,  &c  and  put  himself  upon  his  Country,  &c,  &c,  &c 

(signed)  W""  Paterson 

AtP  Gener' 

No.  36.    General  Mercer  to  Colonel  Durkee. 

25  Dec.  1776. 
Sir  :  You  are  to  see  that  your  men  have  three  days'  provisions 
ready  cooked  before  12  o'clock  this  forenoon  —  the  whole  fit  for 
duty  except  a  Serjeant  and  six  men  to  be  left  with  the  baggage, 
and  to  parade  precisely  at  four  in  the  afternoon  with  their  arms, 
accoutrements  &  ammunition  in  the  best  order,  with  their  pro- 
visions and  blankets— you  will  have  them  told  off  in  divisions 
in  which  order  they  are  to  march  —  eight  men  abreast,  with  the 


officers  fixed  to  their  divisions  from  which  they  are  on  no  account 
to  separate  —  no  man  is  to  quit  his  division  on  pain  of  instant 
punishment  —  each  officer  is  to  provide  himself  with  a  piece  of 
white  paper  stuck  in  his  hat  for  a  field  mark.  You  will  order 
your  men  to  assemble  and  parade  them  in  the  valley  immediately 
over  the  hill  on  the  back  of  McConkey's  Ferry,  to  remain  there 
for  farther  orders  —  a  profound  silence  is  to  be  observed,  both 
by  officers  and  men,  and  a  strict  and  ready  attention  paid  to 
whatever  orders  may  be  given  —  in  forming  the  Brigade  Co 
Durkee  takes  the  right,  Co.  Stone  left,  Co.  Bradley  on  the  left  of 
Co.  Durkee  &  Co.  Rawlings  on  the  Right  of  Co.  Stone  —  the 
Line  to  form  &  march  from  the  Right —  Co.  Hutchinson  to  form 
by  themselves.  — 

Your  obt  S'v't 

H.  Mercer. 

No.  37.    From  Diary  of  an  Officer  on  Washington's  Staff. 

New  Town,  Pa.,  Dec.  22,  1776. 

Things  have  been  going  against  us  since  last  August,  when  we 
were  forced  to  give  up  Long  Island,  losing  3000  men  and  a 
great  amount  of  supplies.  In  October  we  were  forced  to  evacu- 
ate New  York  and  cross  the  Hudson  into  New  Jersey.  We 
reached  Trenton  Dec.  2.  It  was  prudent  forethought  on  the 
part  of  General  Washington  to  send  General  Maxwell  ahead  to 
secure  all  the  boats  on  the  Delaware  River  and  have  them  at 
Trenton  upon  our  arrival.  If  it  had  not  been  done  we  should 
have  been  in  a  bad  fix  with  Cornwallis  at  our  heels.  As  it  was 
the  Hessians  under  Count  Donop  and  Colonel  Rail  arrived  in 
that  village  in  season  to  fire  a  few  shots  at  the  last  boat.  Accord- 
ing to  last  accounts  General  Howe  and  General  Cornwallis  have 
gone  to  New  York  leaving  General  Grant  with  a  few  hundred 
English  troops  at  Princeton,  Colonel  Rail  with  1500  Hessians  at 
Trenton  and  Count  Donop  with  2000  at  Bordentown,  ten  miles 
down  the  river  from  Trenton. 

Washington's  headquarters  are  here  in  this  little  village  of  New 
Town,  back  from  the  river  northwest  of  Trenton.  General 
Greene  and  General  Sullivan,  with  their  divisions,  numbering 
2500  men  and  sixteen  cannon,  are  ten  miles  up  stream  at  McCon- 
key's Ferry.  A  portion  of  the  boats  are  there.  General  Ewing, 
with  2000  men,  is  on  this  side  of  the  river  a  little  below  Trenton, 


and  General  Cadwallader  and  General  Putnam  are  at  Bristol,  ten 
miles  further  down,  with  as  many  more. 

I  rode  along  the  river  yesterday  morning  and  could  see  the 
Hessians  in  Trenton.  It  is  a  pretty  village,  containing  about  130 
houses  and  a  Presbyterian  meeting-house.  A  stone  bridge  spans 
the  Assinpink  creek  on  the  road  leading  south  to  Bordentown. 
There  are  apple  orchards  and  gardens.  Rail  has  his  own  regi- 
ment and  Knyphausen  a  few  dragoons  and  fifty  riflemen.  The 
Hessians  call  them  Yagers.  He  has  six  cannon.  Knyphausen 
has  two  of  them,  two  stand  in  front  of  Rail's  headquarters,  and 
two  up  by  the  Pennington  road.  A  scout  just  in  says  that  Gen- 
eral Howe  has  issued  a  proclamation,  offering  pardon  to  every- 
body in  New  Jersey  who  will  lay  down  their  arms  and  take  the 
oath  of  allegiance.  He  says  that  Howe  and  Cornwallis  are  well 
satisfied  with  what  they  have  accomplished.  Cornwallis  is  going 
to  England  to  tell  the  King  that  the  rebellion  is  about  over. 
Howe  is  going  to  have  a  good  time  in  New  York  attending  dinner 
parties.  From  what  I  see  I  am  quite  certain  Washington  intends 
to  make  some  movement  soon.  He  keeps  his  own  counsel,  but 
is  very  much  determined. 

Dec.  23  —  Orders  have  been  issued  to  cook  rations  for  three 
days.  Washington  has  just  given  the  counter  sign,  "Victory  or 
Death."  He  has  written  a  letter  to  General  Cadwallader  at  Bris- 
tol, which  he  has  intrusted  to  me  to  copy.  He  intends  to  cross 
the  river,  make  a  ten-mile  march  to  Trenton,  and  attack  Rail 
just  before  daybreak.  Ewing  is  to  cross  and  seize  the  bridge 
crossing  the  Assanpink.  Putnam  and  Cadwallader  are  to  cross 
and  make  a  feint  of  attacking  Donop  so  that  he  can  not  hasten 
to  Rail's  assistance. 

Dec.  24  —  A  scout  just  in  says  that  the  Hessians  have  a  picket 
on  the  Pennington  road  half  a  mile  out  from  Trenton,  and  another 
at  Dickenson's  house,  on  the  river  road. 

Dec.  25  —  Christmas  morning.  They  make  a  great  deal  of 
Christmas  in  Germany,  and  no  doubt  the  Hessians  will  drink  a 
great  deal  of  beer  and  have  a  dance  to-night.  They  will  be 
sleepy  to-morrow  morning.  Washington  will  set  the  tune  for 
them  about  daybreak.  The  rations  are  cooked.  New  flints  and 
ammunition  have  been  distributed.  Colonel  Glover's  fishermen 
from  Marblehead,  Mass.,  are  to  manage  the  boats  just  as  they 
did  in  the  retreat  from  Long  Island. 


Christmas,  6  p.  m.  —  The  regiments  have  had  their  evening 
parade,  but  instead  of  returning  to  their  quarters  are  marching 
toward  the  ferry.  It  is  fearfully  cold  and  raw  and  a  snow-storm 
setting  in.  The  wind  is  northeast  and  beats  in  the  faces  of  the 
men.  It  will  be  a  terrible  night  for  the  soldiers  who  have  no 
shoes.  Some  of  them  have  tied  old  rags  around  their  feet ;  others 
are  barefoot,  but  I  have  not  heard  a  man  complain.  They  are 
ready  to  suffer  any  hardship  and  die  rather  than  give  up  their 
liberty.  I  have  just  copied  the  order  for  marching.  Both  divi- 
sions are  to  go  from  the  ferry  to  Bear  Tavern,  two  miles.  They 
will  separate  there  ;  Washington  will  accompany  Greene's  division 
with  a  part  of  the  artillery  down  the  Pennington  Road ;  Sullivan 
and  the  rest  of  the  artillery  will  take  the  river  road. 

Dec.  26,  3  a.  m.  —  I  am  writing  in  the  ferry  house.  The  troops 
are  all  over,  and  the  boats  have  gone  back  for  the  artillery.  We 
are  three  hours  behind  the  set  time.  Glover's  men  have  had  a 
hard  time  to  force  the  boats  through  the  floating  ice  with  the 
snow  drifting  in  their  faces.  I  never  have  seen  Washington  so 
determined  as  he  is  now.  He  stands  on  the  bank  of  the  river, 
wrapped  in  his  cloak,  superintending  the  landing  of  his  troops. 
He  is  calm  and  collected,  but  very  determined.  The  storm  is 
changing  to  sleet,  and  cuts  like  a  knife.  The  last  cannon  is 
being  landed,  and  we  are  ready  to  mount  our  horses. 

Dec.  26,  Noon  —  It  was  nearly  4  o'clock  when  we  started. 
The  two  divisions  divided  at  Bear  Tavern. 

At  Birmingham,  three  and  a  half  miles  south  of  the  tavern,  a 
man  came  with  a  message  from  General  Sullivan  that  the  storm 
was  wetting  the  muskets  and  rendering  them  unfit  for  service. 
"Tell  General  Sullivan,"  said  Washington,  "to  use  the  bayonet. 
I  am  resolved  to  take  Trenton." 

It  was  broad  daylight  when  we  came  to  a  house  where  a  man 
was  chopping  wood.  He  was  very  much  surprised  when  he  saw 
us.  "  Can  you  tell  me  where  the  Hessian  picket  is  ?  "  Washington 
asked.  The  man  hesitated,  but  I  said,  "  You  need  not  be  fright- 
ened, it  is  General  Washington  who  asks  the  question."  His 
face  brightened  and  he  pointed  toward  the  house  of  Mr.  Howell. 

It  was  just  8  o'clock.  Looking  down  the  road  I  saw  a  Hessian 
running  out  from  the  house.  He  yelled  in  Dutch  and  swung  his 
arms.  Three  or  four  others  came  out  with  their  guns.  Two  of 
them  fired  at  us,  but  the  bullets  whistled  over  our  heads.     Some 

AN    OFFICER'S    ACCOUNT   OF   THE   BATTLE       363 

of  General  Stephen's  men  rushed  forward  and  captured  two. 
The  others  took  to  their  heels,  running  toward  Mr.  Calhoun's 
house,  where  the  picket  guard  was  stationed,  about  twenty  men 
under  Captain  Altenbrockum.  They  came  running  out  of  the 
house.  The  Captain  flourished  his  sword  and  tried  to  form  his 
men.  Some  of  them  fired  at  us,  others  ran  toward  the  village. 
The  next  moment  we  heard  drums  beat  and  a  bugle  sound,  and 
then  from  the  west  came  the  boom  of  a  cannon.  General  Wash- 
ington's face  lighted  up  instantly,  for  he  knew  that  it  was  one  of 
Sullivan's  guns.  We  could  see  a  great  commotion  down  toward 
the  meeting-house,  men  running  here  and  there,  officers  swinging 
their  swords,  artillerymen  harnessing  their  horses.  Captain  For- 
rest unlimbered  his  guns.  Washington  gave  the  order  to  advance, 
and  we  rushed  on  to  the  junction  of  King  and  Queen  streets. 
Forrest  wheeled  six  of  his  cannon  into  position  to  sweep  both 
streets.  The  riflemen  under  Colonel  Hand  and  Scott's  and  Law- 
son's  battalions  went  upon  the  run  through  the  fields  on  the  left 
to  gain  possession  of  the  Princeton  road.  The  Hessians  were 
just  ready  to  open  fire  with  two  of  their  cannon  when  Captain 
Washington  and  Lieutenant  Monroe  with  their  men  rushed  for- 
ward and  captured  them.  We  saw  Rail  come  riding  up  the  street 
from  his  headquarters,  which  were  at  Stacy  Potts'  house.  We 
could  hear  him  shouting  in  Dutch,  "  My  brave  soldiers,  advance." 
His  men  were  frightened  and  confused,  for  our  men  were  firing 
upon  them  from  fences  and  houses  and  they  were  falling  fast. 
Instead  of  advancing  they  ran  into  an  apple  orchard.  The  offi- 
cers tried  to  rally  them,  but  our  men  kept  advancing  and  picking 
off  the  officers.  It  was  not  long  before  Rail  tumbled  from  his 
horse  and  his  soldiers  threw  down  their  guns  and  gave  themselves 
up  as  prisoners. 

While  this  was  taking  place  on  the  Pennington  road  Colonel 
John  Stark,  from  New  Hampshire,  in  the  advance  on  the  river 
road  was  driving  Knyphausen's  men  pell  mell  through  the  town. 
Sullivan  sent  a  portion  of  his  troops  under  St.  Clair  to  seize  the 
bridge  and  cut  off  the  retreat  of  the  Hessians  toward  Borden- 
town.  Sullivan's  men  shot  the  artillery  horses  and  captured  two 
cannon  attached  to  Knyphausen's  regiment. 

Dec.  26,  3  p.  m.  —  I  have  been  talking  with  Rail's  Adjutant, 
Lieutenant  Piel.  He  says  that  Rail  sat  down  to  a  grand  dinner 
at  the  Trenton  Tavern  Christmas  Day,  that  he  drank  a  great  deal 


o£  wine  and  sat  up  nearly  all  night  playing  cards.  He  had  been 
in  bed  but  a  short  time  when  the  battle  began  and  was  sound 
asleep.  Piel  shook  him,  but  found  it  hard  work  to  wake  him  up. 
Supposing  he  was  wide  awake  Piel  went  out  to  help  rally  the 
men,  but  Rail  not  appearing,  he  went  back  and  found  him  in  his 
night  shirt.  "  What 's  the  matter  ?  "  Rail  asked.  Piel  informed 
him  that  a  battle  was  going  on.  That  seemed  to  bring  him  to 
his  senses.  He  dressed  himself,  rushed  out  and  mounted  his 
horse  to  be  mortally  wounded  a  few  minutes  later. 

We  have  taken  nearly  1000  prisoners,  six  cannon,  more  than 
1000  muskets,  twelve  drums,  and  four  colors.  About  forty  Hes- 
sians were  killed  or  wounded.  Our  loss  is  only  two  killed  and 
three  wounded.  Two  of  the  latter  are  Captain  Washington  and 
Lieutenant  Monroe,  who  rushed  forward  very  bravely  to  seize  the 

I  have  just  been  with  General  Washington  and  Greene  to  see 
Rail.  He  will  not  live  through  the  night.  He  asked  that  his 
men  might  be  kindly  treated.  Washington  promised  that  he 
would  see  they  were  well  cared  for. 

Dec.  27,  1776.  —  Here  we  are  back  in  our  camp  with  the  pris- 
oners and  trophies.  Washington  is  keeping  his  promise  ;  the 
soldiers  are  in  the  New  Town  Meeting-house  and  other  buildings. 
He  has  just  given  directions  for  to-morrow's  dinner.  All  the 
captured  Hessian  officers  are  to  dine  with  him.  He  bears  the 
Hessians  no  malice,  but  says  they  have  been  sold  by  their  Grand 
Duke  to  King  George  and  sent  to  America,  when  if  they  could 
have  their  own  way  they  would  be  peaceably  living  in  their  own 

It  is  a  glorious  victory.  It  will  rejoice  the  hearts  of  our  friends 
everywhere  and  give  new  life  to  our  hitherto  waning  fortunes. 
Washington  has  baffled  the  enemy  in  his  retreat  from  New  York. 
He  has  pounced  upon  the  Hessians  like  an  eagle  upon  a  hen  and 
is  safe  once  more  on  this  side  the  river.  If  he  does  nothing  more 
he  will  live  in  history  as  a  great  military  commander. 

No.  38.    Colonel  Cadwalader  to  . 

Bristol  26th  Deer  1776. 
Gentlemen. — 

There  was  a  general  attack  to  be  made  last  night.     The  river 
was  impassable  here  &  we  made  the  attempt  at  Dunks  Ferry  but 


found  it  impracticable  to  get  over  our  Cannon,  we  returned  this 
morn'g  to  Bristol  about  four.  I  this  moment  have  an  account  by 
Mr.  JMcLane  (a  man  of  veracity)  that  he  was  at  Trenton  Ferry 
this  morning  &  heard  a  very  heavy  firing  on  the  River  &  Penny 
Town  Roads  that  lead  to  Trenton  —  the  heavy  firing  lasted  about 
J  an  Hour  &  continued  to  moderate  for  about  three  Quarters. 
The  Light  Horse  &  Hessians  were  seen  flying  in  great  confusion 
towards  Bordentown,  but  without  Cannon  or  Waggons,  so  that 
the  Enemy  must  have  lost  the  whole,  a  party  of  our  men  inter- 
cepted about  a  Dozen  Hessians  in  sight  of  our  people  on  this 
side  &  brought  them  to  the  Ferry  &  huzza'd.  I  have  ordered  the 
boats  from  Dunk's  and  shall  pass  as  soon  as  possible — we  can 
muster  here  about  1800  men  if  the  Expedition  last  night  in  the 
storm  does  not  thin  our  Ranks.  Has  General  Putnam  crossed 
and  with  what  Numbers  —  Pray  let  me  know  ;  Everything  of  this 
kind  gives  Confidence  to  the  Troops.  1  have  no  doubt  of  the 
report,  a  heavy  firing  was  heard  at  this  place  —  an  attempt  was 
made  to  pass  at  or  a  little  below  Trenton  Ferr)',  but  could  not  get 
over,  that  would  have  made  the  Victory  still  more  compleat. 

Yours  & 

John  Cadwalader. 

No.  39.    Colonel  Cadwalader  to  . 

Bristol,  25th  Deer 
Gentlemen : 

I  wrote  this  morning  to  Gen.  Washington  directed  to  Gen. 
Ewing  at  Trenton  Ferry  who  informs  me  that  he  cannot  yet  ascer- 
tain the  particulars  of  this  morning's  action  —  one  \\'aggon  loaded 
with  Arms  was  brought  down  to  the  Ferry  (Hessian  arms)  and 
safe  landed  on  this  shore  &  six  Hessians  we  have  taken  14  or  16 
ps  of  Cannon,  a  considerable  of  Stores  &  Cloathing.  The  num- 
ber of  killed,  wounded  &:  prisoners  is  very  considerable. 

Yours  &c 

John  Cadwalader. 

No.  40.    Colonel  Clement  Biddle  to  - — — . 

Dated  29th  Deer  1776. 
We  have  returned  with  much  honour  from  our  Trenton  expedi- 
tion having  brought  off  about  750  Hessians  i  Lt.  Col.  2  Majors, 
4  Captains,  15  Subalterns,  3  Standards,  6  Brass  field  Pieces  and 
near  1000  Stand  of  Arms. 


We  came  on  them  by  surprize  at  about  7  o'clock —  their  guard 
at  the  end  of  the  town  and  their  parties  in  town  gave  smart  resist- 
ance for  a  while  and  they  passed  up  the  Creek  back  of  the  Meet- 
ing House  where  they  formed  and  thought  we  should  have  had  a 
smart  engagement  but  they  were  by  that  time  near  surrounded 
&  so  push'd  at  all  points  that  they  surrendered  with  all  their 
arms  &c. 

Our  officers  and  men  behaved  with  most  remarkable  bravery, 
and  by  their  activity  and  zeal  they  soon  put  a  most  honourable 
end  to  this  very  important  affair.  Indeed  I  never  could  conceive 
that  one  spirit  should  so  universally  animate  both  officers  and 
men  to  rush  forward  into  action. 

No.  41.   Tench  Tilghman  to  James  Tilghman,  Esq. 

Head  Quarters  Newtowx  27th  Decemr  1776 
Hon"  Sir: 

I  have  the  pleasure  to  inform  you  that  I  am  safe  and  well  after 
a  most  successful  Enterprise  against  three  Regiments  of  Hessians 
consisting  of  about  1500  Men  lying  in  Trenton,  which  was  planned 
and  executed  under  his  Excellency's  immediate  command.  Our 
party  amounted  to  2400  Men,  we  crossed  the  River  at  McKon- 
keys  Ferry  9  Miles  above  Trenton  the  Night  was  excessively 
severe,  both  cold  and  snowey,  which  the  Men  bore  without  the 
least  murmur.  We  were  so  much  delayed  in  crossing  the  River, 
that  we  did  not  reach  Trenton  till  eight  OClock,  when  the  divi- 
sion which  the  General  headed  in  person,  attacked  the  Enemy's 
out  post.  The  other  Division  which  marched  the  lower  Road 
attacked  the  advanced  post  at  Phil  Dickenson's,  within  a  few 
minutes  after  we  began  ours.  Both  parties  pushed  on  with  so 
much  rapidity,  that  the  Enemy  had  scarce  time  to  form,  our  peo- 
ple advanced  up  to  the  Mouths  of  their  Field  pieces,  shot  down 
their  Horses,  and  brought  off  the  Cannon.  About  600  run  off 
upon  the  Bordenton  Road  the  moment  the  Attack  began,  the 
remainder  finding  themselves  surrounded  laid  down  their  Arms. 
We  have  taken  30  officers  and  886  privates  among  the  former 
Col°  Rahls  the  Commandant  who  is  wounded.  The  General  left 
him  and  the  other  wounded  Officers  upon  their  parole,  under  their 
own  Surgeons,  and  gave  all  the  privates  their  Baggage.  Our  loss 
is  only  Cap'  Washington  and  his  Lieutenant  slightly  wounded 
and  two  privates  killed  and  two  wounded.     If  the  Ice  had  not 


prevented  Gen^  Ewing  from  crossing  at  Trenton  Ferry,  and  Col° 
Cadwalader  from  doing  the  same  at  Bristol,  we  should  have  fol- 
lowed the  Blow  and  drove  every  post  below  Trenton.  The 
Hessians  have  laid  all  waste  since  the  British  Troops  went 
away,  the  Inhabitants  had  all  left  the  Town  and  their  Houses 
were  stripped  and  torn  to  pieces.  The  Inhabitants  about  the 
Country  told  us,  that  the  British  protections  would  not  pass 
among  the  Hessians.  I  am  informed  that  many  people  have  of 
choice  kept  their  Effects  in  Philad",  supposing  if  Gerf  Howe  got 
possession  that  they  would  be  safe,  so  they  may  be,  if  he  only 
carries  British  Troops  with  him,  but  you  may  depend  it  is  not  in 
his  power,  neither  does  he  pretend  to  restrain  the  Foreigners.  I 
have  just  snatched  time  to  scrawl  these  few  lines  by  Col°  Baylor, 
who  is  going  to  Congress  — 

I  am  your  most  dutiful  and  affect —  Son 

Tench  Tilghman. 

No.  42.    Extract  of  Letter  from  an  Officer  of  Dis- 

(Generally  believed  to  be  Brigadier-General  Lord  Stirling,  at  Newtown,  Bucks 
County,  Pennsylvania,  dated  December  27,  1776.) 

This  letter  was  published  by  the  Council  of  Safety,  and  a  copy 
was  sent  to  the  Congress  of  the  United  States  :  — 

It  was  determined,  some  days  ago,  that  our  army  should  pass 
over  to  Jersey,  in  three  different  places,  and  attack  the  men,  and 
twenty  brass  field-pieces,  with  his  Excellency  Gen.  Washington 
at  their  head,  and  Majors  Gens.  Sullivan  and  Greene  in  com- 
mand of  two  divisions,  passed  over  on  the  night  of  Christmas, 
and  about  three  o'clock,  A.  M.  were  on  their  march,  by  two 
routs,  towards  Trenton.  The  night  was  sleety,  and  the  roads  so 
slippery  that  it  was  day  break  when  we  were  two  miles  from 
Trenton.  But  happily  the  enemy  were  not  apprised  of  our  de- 
sign, and  our  advanced  party  were  on  their  guards  at  half  a  mile 
from  the  town,  when  Gen.  Sullivan's  and  Gen.  Greene's  divisions 
soon  came  into  the  same  road.  Their  guard  gave  our  advanced 
party  several  smart  fires,  as  we  drove  them  ;  but  we  soon  got 
two  field-pieces  at  play,  and  several  others  in  a  short  time ;  and 
one  of  our  Colonels  pushing  down  on  the  right  while  the  others 
advanced  on  the  left,  into  the  town.     The  enemy,  consisting  of 


about  fifteen  hundred  Hessians,  under  Col.  Rohl,  formed  and 
made  some  smart  fires  from  the  musketry  and  six  field-pieces,  but 
our  people  pressed  from  every  quarter,  and  drove  them  from  their 
cannon.  They  retreated  towards  a  field  behind  a  piece  of  wood 
up  the  creek,  from  Trenton,  and  formed  in  two  bodies,  which  I 
expected  would  have  brought  on  a  smart  engagement  from  the 
troops,  who  had  formed  very  near  them,  but  at  that  instant,  as  I 
came  in  full  view  of  them,  from  the  back  of  the  wood,  with  his 
Excellency  General  Washington,  an  officer  informed  him  that  the 
party  had  grounded  their  arms  and  surrendered  prisoners. 

The  others  soon  followed  their  example,  except  a  part  which 
had  gone  off  in  the  hazy  weather,  towards  Princeton,  and  a  party 
of  their  light  horse  which  made  off  on  our  first  appearance.  Too 
much  praise  cannot  be  given  to  the  officers  of  every  regiment. 
By  their  active  and  spirited  behaviour,  they  soon  put  an  honor- 
able issue  to  this  glorious  day. 

I  was  immediately  sent  off  with  the  prisoners  to  M'Conkey's 
ferry,  and  have  got  about  seven  hundred  and  fifty  safe  in  town 
and  a  few  miles  from  here,  on  this  side  of  the  ferry,  viz.  one  Lieu- 
tenant Colonel,  two  Majors,  four  Captains,  Seven  Lieutenants, 
and  eight  Ensigns.  We  left  Colonel  Rohl,  the  commandant 
wounded,  on  his  parole,  and  several  other  officers  and  wounded 
men  at  Trenton.  We  lost  but  two  of  our  men,  that  I  can  hear 
of,  a  few  wounded,  and  one  brave  officer,  Capt.  Washington,  who 
assisted  in  securing  their  artillery,  shot  in  both  hands.  Indeed 
every  officer  and  private  behaved  well,  and  it  was  a  most  fortu- 
nate day  for  our  arms,  which  I  the  more  rejoice  at,  having  an 
active  part  in  it.  The  success  of  this  day  will  greatly  animate 
our  friends,  and  add  fresh  courage  to  our  new  army,  which,  when 
formed,  will  be  sufficient  to  secure  us  from  the  depredations  or 
insults  of  our  enemy. 

Gen.  Ewing's  division  could  not  pass  at  Trenton  for  the  ice, 
which  also  impeded  Gen.  Cadwallader  passing  over  with  all  his 
cannon  and  the  militia,  though  part  of  his  troops  were  over,  and 
if  the  whole  could  have  passed,  we  should  have  swept  the  coast 
to  Philadelphia.  We  took  three  standards,  six  fine  brass  cannon, 
and  about  one  thousand  stands  of  arms. 

Published  by  order  of  Council  of  Safety. 

G.  BiCKHAM,  Sec.  pro  tem. 


No.  43.    The  Pennsylvania  Evening  Post, 

(December  31,  1776,  also  published  the  foregoing  document  and  added  this 


By  an  authentic  account  received  this  morning,  the  following 
is  a  list  of  prisoners  taken,  viz.  :  One  Col.  two  Lieut.  Cols,  three 
Majors,  four  Captains,  eight  Lieuts,  twelve  Ensigns,  two  Surgeon 
Mates,  ninety  nine  sergeants,  twenty  five  drummers,  nine  musi- 
cians, twenty  five  servants,  and  seven  hundred  and  forty  privates. 

Philadelphia,  Dec.  31.  By  the  last  advices  from  the  Jersies, 
we  learn  the  enemy  are  every  where  flying  before  our  army,  who 
frequently  take  small  parties  of  them.  Since  the  affair  at  Tren- 
ton, it  is  said,  we  have  taken  four  hundred,  amongst  whom  are 
several  officers.  ' 

Yesterday  morning  upwards  of  nine  hundred  Hessians,  who 
were  taken  at  Trenton,  were  brought  to  this  city.  The  wretched 
condition  of  these  unhappy  men,  most  of  whom,  if  not  all,  were 
dragged  from  their  wives  and  families  by  a  despotic  and  avari- 
cious prince,  must  sensibly  affect  every  generous  mind  with  the 
dreadful  effects  of  arbitrary  power. 

Last  Monday  seven  of  the  lighthorse  belonging  to  this  city, 
took  nine  lighthorsemen  from  the  enemy,  near  Princeton,  without 
firing  a  gun. 

Last  Thursday  afternoon  Col.  Rohl  died,  at  Trenton,  of  the 
wounds  he  received  that  morning. 

No.  44.    Colonel  Clement  Biddle  to  Committee  of  Safety. 

Head  Quarters  Newtown  28  Decem'r  1776 
Sir  : 

His  Excellency,  General  Washington  has  commanded  me  to 
send  forward  the  Prisoners  taken  at  Trenton,  to  pass  through 
Philadelphia  to  Lancaster  and  I  have  sent  them  with  a  Guard 
under  the  conduct  of  Capt.  Murray  (an  officer  of  this  State  lately 
released  from  New  York)  with  directions  to  furnish  them  Provi- 
sions and  Quarters  on  the  Road.  .  .  . 

I  have  the  pleasure  to  inform  you  that  the  Prisoners  amount  to 
near  one  thousand,  that  their  Arms,  six  brass  field  pieces.  Eight 
Standards  or  Colours  and  a  number  of  Swords,  Cartouch  Boxes 
taken  in  this  happy  Expedition,  are  safely  arrived  at  and  near 
this  place.     If  your  Honourable  Committee  could  by  any  means 


furnish  Shoes  &  Stockings  for  our   Troops  it  will  be  a  great 
relief.  .  .  . 

I  am  with  great  Respect  your  and  the  Councils  most  obedient 
and  very  Humble  serv't 

Clement  Biddle, 

D.  Qu'r  M'r  Gen'l 

I  am  not  alone  in  assuring  you  that  the  Inhabitants  of  Jersey 
of  whom  we  had  an  opportunity  of  enquiring  of  the  Behaviour  of 
the  Hessian  Troops  declare  that  their  Officers  &  Soldiers  treated 
them  in  general  with  more  Lenity,  than  those  of  the  British  Troops 
w'ch  Justice  to  our  Prisoners,  calls  for  an  acknowledgement  of, 
as  false  reports  had  been  spread  to  the  contrary. 
Y'r  mo.  ob.  &  h.  s. 

C.  B. 

On  Public  Service  to  the  Hon'ble  Thomas  Wharton,  Esq.  Pre- 
sident of  the  Committee  of  Safety  of  Pennsylvania,  Philadelphia. 

No.  45.    Lieutenant  Patrick  Duffy  to  Colonel  Thomas 

M^Conkey's  Ferry  28th  Dec'r,  1776. 
Sir  — 

I  have  the  pleasure  of  informing  you  that  I  have  yesterday 
arrived  from  Trenton,  after  a  very  fataguing  (though  successfull) 
engagement  in  which  can  assure  you  the  Artillery  got  applause. 
I  had  the  Honour  of  being  detach'd  up  the  Main  Street  in  front 
of  the  Savages,  without  any  other  piece,  and  sustained  the  fire  of 
Several  gunns  from  the  Houses  on  each  side  without  the  least 
loss  must  attribute  my  protection  to  the  hand  of  Providence.  We 
made  Prisoners  of  about  900,  together  with  the  number  killed 
which  I  cannot  exactly  ascertain,  but  we  took  6  brass  field  pieces 
and  a  number  of  small  arms,  all  which  has  been  safely  carried 
off.  .  .  . 

Yr  Very  obedient  Servant, 

Pat  Duffy. 

P.  S.  Comp'ts  to  Capt.  Courtney  &  Mr  Turnbull  am  glad  to 
hear  of  y'r  Promotion  to  Colonell. 

Directed  To  Collonell  Thomas  Procter,  of  Artillery,  Philadel- 

LETTER  OF  COLONEL  KNOX         371 

No.  46.   Colonel  Knox  to  his  Wife. 

Delaware  River,  near  Trenton 
Dec.  28,  1776  near  12  o'clock 

My  Dearly  Beloved  Friend,  — 

You  will  before  this  have  heard  of  our  success  on  the  morning 
of  the  26th  instant.  The  enemy,  by  their  superior  marching,  had 
obliged  us  to  retire  on  the  Pennsylvania  side  of  the  Delaware,  by 
which  means  we  were  obliged  to  evacuate  or  give  up  nearly  all 
the  Jerseys.  Soon  after  retiring  over  the  river,  the  preservation 
of  Philadelphia  was  a  matter  exceedingly  precarious  —  the  force 
of  the  enemy  three  or  four  times  as  large  as  ours.  However, 
they  seemed  content  with  their  success  for  the  present,  and  quar- 
tered their  troops  in  different  and  distant  places  in  the  Jerseys. 
Of  these  cantonments  Trenton  was  the  most  considerable.  Tren- 
ton is  an  open  town,  situated  nearly  on  the  banks  of  the  Dela- 
ware, accessible  on  all  sides.  Our  army  was  scattered  along  the 
river  for  nearly  twenty-five  miles.  Our  intelligence  agreed  that 
the  force  of  the  enemy  in  Trenton  was  from  two  to  three  thou- 
sand, with  about  six  field  cannon,  and  that  they  were  pretty  secure 
in  their  situation,  and  that  they  were  Hessians  —  no  British 
troops.  A  hardy  design  was  formed  of  attacking  the  town  by 
storm.  Accordingly  a  part  of  the  army,  consisting  of  about  2500 
or  3000  passed  the  river  on  Christmas  night,  with  almost  infinite 
difficulty,  with  eighteen  field  pieces.  The  floating  ice  in  the  river 
made  the  labor  almost  incredible.  However,  perseverance  ac- 
complished what  at  first  seemed  impossible.  About  tw^o  o'clock 
the  troops  were  all  on  the  Jersey  side  ;  we  then  were  about  nine 
miles  from  the  object.  The  night  was  cold  and  stormy  ;  it  hailed 
with  great  violence  ;  the  troops  marched  with  the  most  profound 
silence  and  good  order.  They  arrived  by  two  routes  at  the  same 
time,  about  half  an  hour  after  daylight,  within  one  mile  of  the 
town.  The  storm  continued  with  great  violence,  but  was  in  our 
backs,  and  consequently  in  the  faces  of  our  enemy.  About  half 
a  mile  from  the  town  was  an  advanced  guard  on  each  road,  con- 
■sisting  of  a  captain's  guard.  These  we  forced,  and  entered  the 
town  with  them  pell-mell ;  and  here  succeeded  a  scene  of  war  of 
which  I  had  often  conceived,  but  never  saw  before.  The  hurry, 
fright,  and  confusion  of  the  enemy  was  (not)  unlike  that  which 
will  be  when  the  last  trump  shall  sound.     They  endeavoured  to 


form  in  streets,  the  heads  of  which  we  had  previously  the  posses- 
sion of  with  cannon  and  howitzers ;  these,  in  the  twinkling  of  an 
eye,  cleared  the  streets.  The  backs  of  the  houses  were  resorted 
to  for  shelter.  These  proved  ineffectual  :  the  musketry  soon  dis- 
lodged them.  Finally  they  were  driven  through  the  town  into  an 
open  plain  beyond.  Here  they  formed  in  an  instant.  During 
the  contest  in  the  streets  measures  were  taken  for  putting  an 
entire  stop  to  their  retreat  by  posting  troops  and  cannon  in  such 
passes  and  roads  as  it  was  possible  for  them  to  get  away  by. 
The  poor  fellows  after  they  were  formed  on  the  plain  saw  them- 
selves completely  surrounded,  the  only  resource  left  was  to  force 
their  way  through  numbers  unknown  to  them.  The  Hessians 
lost  part  of  their  cannon  in  the  town  ;  they  did  not  relish  the  pro- 
ject of  forcing,  and  were  obliged  to  surrender  upon  the  spot,  with 
all  their  artillery,  six  brass  pieces,  army  colors,  &c.  A  Colonel 
Rawle  commanded,  who  was  wounded.  The  number  of  prisoners 
was  above  1200,  including  ofScers  —  all  Hessians.  There  were 
few  killed  or  wounded  on  either  side.  After  having  marched  off 
the  prisoners  and  secured  the  cannon,  stores,  &c.  we  returned  to 
the  place,  nine  miles  distant,  where  we  had  embarked.  Provi- 
dence seemed  to  have  smiled  upon  every  part  of  this  enterprise. 
Great  advantages  may  be  gained  from  it  if  we  take  the  proper 
steps.  At  another  post  we  have  pushed  over  the  river  2000  men, 
today  another  body,  and  tomorrow  the  whole  army  will  follow. 
It  must  give  a  sensible  pleasure  to  every  friend  of  the  rights  of 
man  to  think  with  how  much  intrepidity  our  people  pushed  the 
enemy,  and  prevented  their  forming  in  the  town.  His  Excellency 
the  General  has  done  me  the  unmerited  great  honour  of  thanking 
me  in  public  orders  in  terms  strong  and  polite.  This  I  would 
blush  to  mention  to  any  other  than  to  you,  my  dear  Lucy;  and  I 
am  fearful  that  even  my  Lucy  may  think  her  Harry  possesses  a 
species  of  little  vanity  in  doing  (it)  at  all. 

No.  47.    Captain  Thomas  Forrest  to  Colonel  Thomas 

M<^Co>.'Key's  Ferry,  29th  Dec'r  1776. 
Sir  — 

Am  happy  in  acquainting  you  that  we  have  return'd  from  Tren- 
ton after  defeating  the  Brass  Caps  and  Crous  coups  and  am  now 
under  marching  orders  on  an  other  Expedition  over  the  river, 


hope  it  may  prove  as  Successful!  as  the  last ;  we  have  taken,  ex- 
clusive of  what  were  not  able  to  march  off,  with  a  Compleat  band 
of  Musick,  the  number  kill'd  uncertain.  The  men  are  not  able 
to  move  for  want  of  Shoes  and  Watch  Coats  which  I  expect 
you  '11  forward  p  bearer  immediately,  with  Gunn  Screws,  and  the 
Regimental  Coats  for  such  as  has  been  before  mentioned.  .  .  . 
Yr  Ob't  Servant 

Thomas  Forrest 

Comp'"  of  Brother  Officers  to  Mr  Courtney  and  TurnbuU  — 
Directed  To  CoUonel  Procter,  of  Artillery,  Philadelphia  — 

No.  48.    Governor  Tryon  to  Lord  Germain. 

New  York  31  Decemb'r  1776 
My  Lord  — 

The  Rebels  carrying  off  the  Hessian  Brigade  under  Coll :  Rail 
'at  Trenton,  has  given  me  more  real  chagrin,  than  any  other  cir- 
cumstance this  war  :  the  moment  was  critical,  and  I  believe  the 
Rebel  Chiefs  were  conscious,  if  some  stroke  was  not  struck  that 
would  give  life  to  their  sinking  cause,  they  should  not  raise  an- 
other army.  Unlucky  as  was  this  loss,  I  have  received  great 
comfort  by  the  assurances  Heister  and  Gen'l  Kniphausen  have 
given  me  (who  are  most  sincerely  and  deeply  mortified  at  the 
event)  that  the  Rebels  will  not  with  all  their  arts  be  able  to 
seduce  the  Hessian  Prisoners  from  their  allegiance  to  their  Prince 
and  duty  to  His  Maj'ty.  I  trust,  this  tarnish  to  the  Campaign, 
will  in  due  season  be  wiped  away  by  some  brilliant  enterprize  of 
the  King's  forces  who  entertain  the  keenest  sense  of  the  insult. 

I  am  with  all  possible  respect  My  Lord 

Your 's  Lord'p's  most  obed't  and  very  humble  servant 

W  Tryon. 

No.  49.    Memorandum  in  General  Robert  Anderson's 
Letter  Book 

(In  reference  to  his  father,  Captain   Richard  Clough  Anderson,  Fifth  regi- 
ment, Continental  infantry). 

He  was  ordered  on  Christmas  eve,  1776  to  proceed  to  .  .  . 

and  if  he  did  not  find  any  of  the  enemy's  forces  there,  then  to 

,  and  if  he  did  not  find  them  at  either  of  the  places  named 


he  was  to  go  to  Trenton  where  he  would  find  them.  His  orders 
were  to  reconnoitre,  to  see  where  the  enemy's  outpost  were,  to 
get  such  information  as  he  could  about  tliem,  but  to  be  very 
careful  and  not  to  bring  on  an  engagement. 

Having  gone  to  the  places  designated  without  finding  the 
enemy,  he  advanced  upon  Trenton.  The  party  came  close  upon 
the  Hessian  sentinel,  who  was  marching  on  his  post,  bending  his 
head  down  as  he  met  the  storm,  which  beat  heavily  in  a  driving 
snow  in  the  faces  of  the  patrol.  He  saw  them  about  the  same 
time  that  he  was  seen,  and  as  he  brought  his  gun  to  a  charge  and 
challenged,  he  was  shot  down.  My  father  having  now  accom- 
plished the  object  of  his  mission,  and  knowing  that  the  enemy's 
forces  would  be  promptly  turned  out,  and  that  an  engagement 
which  he  had  been  ordered  to  avoid  would  ensue,  ordered  his 
company  to  countermarch,  and  marched  them  back  towards  his 
camp.  He  had  not  gone  farbefore  he  saw,  very  much  to  his  sur- 
prise, Washington's  Army  advancing  toward  him.  As  he  was 
then  in  a  narrow  lane  he  ordered  his  company  to  withdraw  one  side 
into  an  adjoining  field.  The  advance  guard  seeing  a  body  of 
soldiers  ahead,  and  supposing  that  they  were  the  advance  guard 
of  the  British  forces,  halted,  and  very  soon  an  officer  approached 
near  enough  to  recognize  them  as  American  troops.  General 
Washington  approached  and  asked  who  was  in  command  and 
where  he  had  been.  I  have  frequently  heard  my  father  remark 
that  he  never  saw  Gen^  Washington  exhibit  so  much  anger  as  he 
did  when  he  told  him  where  he  had  been  and  what  he  had  done. 
He  turned  to  Gen'  S(tephen)  and  asked  how  he  dared  to  send  a 
patrol  from  camp  without  his  authority,  remarking  "  You  sir,  may 
have  ruined  all  my  plans,  by  having  put  them  on  their  guard." 
He  then  addressed  my  father  in  a  very  calm  and  considerate 
manner  and  told  him  that  as  he  and  his  men  must  be  very  much 
fatigued  after  such  hard  service,  he  should  march  in  the  van 
guard,  when  he  would  be  less  harrassed  by  the  fatigue  of  the 

No.  50.    Proclamation. 

The  following  advertisement  was  put  up  in  the  most  public 
parts  of  the  Jerseys  :  — 

His  Excellency  General  Washington  strictly  forbids  all  the  offi- 
cers and  soldiers  of  the  Continental  army,  of  the  militia  and  all 
recruiting   parties,  plundering   any  person  whatsoever,  whether 


Tories  or  others.  The  effects  of  such  persons  will  be  applied  to 
public  uses  in  a  regular  manner,  and  it  is  expected  that  humanity 
and  tenderness  to  women  and  children  will  distinguish  brave 
Americans,  contending  for  liberty,  from  infamous  mercenary  rav- 
agers,  whether  British  or  Hessians. 

Go.  Washington. 

Trentox,  January  i,  1777. 

No.  51.    Captain  William  Hull,  Seventh  Connecticut 
Regiment,  to  Andrew  Adams. 

Trenton,  Jany  ist  1777 
Dear  Sir  : 

Have  but  a  moment  which  shall  embrace  with  Pleasure  to 
inform  you  of  the  present  State  of  our  Army  and  our  late  Success. 
After  we  had  recruited  a  few  days  of  a  fatiguing  March  of  more 
than  250  Miles  (thro'  all  our  Windings)  Genl.  Washington  gave 
orders  for  us  to  be  every  way  equiped  for  Action.  On  the  Even- 
ing of  the  25  th  Ult.  we  were  ordered  to  March  to  a  ferry  (McCon- 
key's)  about  twelve  Miles  from  Trenton,  where  was  stationed 
near  two  Thousand  Hessians.  As  violent  a  Storm  ensued  of 
Hail  &  Snow  as  I  ever  felt.  The  Artillery  and  Infantry  all  were 
across  the  Ferry  about  twelve  O'clock,  consisting  of  only  twenty 
one  hundred  principally  New  England  Troops.  In  this  Violent 
Storm  we  marched  on  for  Trenton.  Before  Light  in  the  Morn- 
ing we  gained  all  the  Roads  leading  from  Trenton.  The  Genl. 
gave  orders  that  every  Officer's  Watch  should  be  set  by  his,  and 
the  Moment  of  Attack  was  fixed.  Just  after  Light,  we  came  to 
their  out  Guard,  which  fired  upon  us  and  retreated.  The  first 
Sound  of  the  Musquetry  and  Retreat  of  the  Guards  animated  the 
Men  and  they  pushed  on  with  Resolution  and  Firmness.  Hap- 
pily the  fire  begun  on  every  Side  at  the  same  instant,  their  Main 
body  had  just  Time  to  form  when  there  ensued  a  heavy  Cannon- 
ade from  our  Field  Pieces  and  a  fine  brisk  and  lively  fire  from 
our  Infantry.  This  continued  but  a  Short  Time  before  the 
Enemy  finding  themselves  flanked  on  every  Side  laid  down  their 
Arms.  The  Resolution  and  Bravery  of  our  Men,  their  Order  and 
Regulariety,  gave  me  the  highest  Sensation  of  Pleasure.  Genl. 
Washington  highly  congratulated  the  Men  on  next  day  in  Genl. 
Orders,  and  with  Pleasure  observed,  that  he  had  been  in  Many 
Actions  before,  but  always  perceived  some  Misbehaviour  in  some 


individuals^  but  in  that  Action  he  saw  none.  Pennsylvania  itself 
is  obliged  to  acknowledge  the  Bravery  of  New  Eng'd  Troops.  I 
have  a  List  from  Head  Quarters  of  the  Killed  and  taken,  which 
was  taken  the  day  after  the  Action,  since  which  many  more  have 
been  brought  in  ;  i  Col.  wounded  since  dead,  2  Lieut.  CoP  taken, 
3  Majors,  4  Capts,  8  Lieuts,  12  Ens'ns,  92  Serg'ts,  9  Musicians, 
12  Drums,  25  Servants,  842  Privates,  2  Capt's  killed,  2  Lieut's, 
killed,  50  privates.  Six  Brass  Field  Pieces,  One  Mortar  and  about 
1500  Stand  of  Arms.  A  large  Number  of  Horses  and  avast 
Quantity  of  Plunder  of  every  kind.  And  this,  Sir,  I  will  assure 
you  with  only  the  Loss  of  six  or  seven  on  our  side,  this  is  no 
Exaggeration  but  simple  fact,  'tis  impossible  to  describe  the  scene 
to  you  as  it  appeared.  We  immediately  retreated  across  the 
River  and  did  not  get  to  our  Tents  till  next  Morning  —  two 
Nights  and  one  day  in  as  violent  a  Storm  as  I  ever  felt.  What 
can't  Men  do  when  engaged  in  so  noble  a  Cause.  Our  Men's 
Time  Expired  Yesterday,  they  have  generally  engaged  to  tarry 
six  weeks  longer.  My  company  almost  to  a  man.  Orders  have 
now  come  for  us  to  march  for  Princetown.  We  have  a  Rumor 
that  it  was  burned  last  night  by  the  Enemy,  who  we  suppose  are 
about  retreating.  Compliments  to  Miss  Adams  &  Children. 
Adieu  and  believe  me  to  be  sincerely  yours, 

Wm  Hull. 
To  Andrew  Adams,  Litchfield,  Conn. 

No.  52.     Colonel  John  Haslet  to  C^sar  Rodney. 

(The  last  letter  he  wrote.     In  possession  of  Mr.  Caesar  A.  Rodney,  of  Wil- 
mington, Delaware.) 

Allentown  January  2d  1777. 
This  morning  we  were  called  up  at  2  o'clock  under  a  pretended 
alarm  that  we  were  to  be  attacked  by  the  enemy  but  at  daylight 
we  were  ordered  to  march  for  Trenton,  and  when  we  reached 
Crosswicks  found  that  the  brigade  had  gone.  We  reached  Tren- 
ton about  II  o'clock,  and  found  all  the  troops  from  our  different 
posts  in  Jersey,  collected  and  collecting  there  under  General 
Washington  himself ;  and  the  regular  troops  were  already  properly 
disposed  to  receive  the  enemy,  whose  main  body  was  then  within 
a  few  miles  and  determined  to  dispossess  us.  Trenton  stands 
upon  the  River  Delaware,  with  a  creek  called  Assunpink  passing 
through  the  town  across  which  there  is  a  bridge.     The  enemy 


came  down  on  the  upper  side  of  this  creek,  through  the  town, 
and  a  number  of  our  troops  were  posted  with  Riflemen  and  artil- 
lery to  oppose  their  approach.  The  main  body  of  our  army  was 
drawn  up  on  a  plain  below  or  on  the  lower  side  of  the  Assun- 
pink,  near  the  bridge,  and  the  main  force  of  our  Artillery  was 
posted  on  the  banks  and  high  grounds  along  the  creek  in  front 
of  them.  Gen.  Mercer's  brigade  was  posted  about  2  miles  up 
the  creek,  and  the  troops  under  Gen.  Cadwalader  were  stationed 
in  a  field  on  the  right  about  a  mile  from  the  town,  on  the  main 
road,  to  prevent  the  enemy  from  flanking.  We  had  five  pieces 
of  Artillery  with  our  Division  and  about  20  more  in  the  field, 
near,  and  at  the  town.  Our  numbers  were  about  five  thousand, 
and  the  enemy's  about  seven  thousand.  The  attack  began  about 
2  o'clock  and  a  heavy  fire  upon  both  sides,  chiefly  from  the  artil- 
lery, continued  untill  dark.  At  this  time  the  enemy  were  left  in 
possession  of  the  upper  part  of  the  town,  but  we  kept  possession 
of  the  bridge,  altho'  the  enemy  attempted  several  times  to  carry 
it  but  were  repulsed  each  time  with  great  slaughter.  After  sunset 
this  afternoon  the  enemy  came  down  in  a  very  heavy  column  to 
force  the  bridge.  The  fire  was  very  heavy  and  the  Light  troops 
were  ordered  to  fly  to  the  support  of  that  important  post,  and  as 
we  drew  near,  I  stepped  out  of  the  front  to  order  my  men  to 
close  up ;  at  this  time  Martinas  Sipple  was  about  lo  sets  behind 
the  man  next  in  front  of  him.  I  at  once  drew  my  sword  and 
threatened  to  cut  his  head  off  if  he  did  not  keep  close,  he  then 
sprang  forward  and  I  returned  to  the  front.  The  enemy  were 
soon  defeated  and  retired  and  the  American  army  also  retired  to 
the  woods,  where  they  encamped  and  built  up  fires.  I  then  had 
the  roll  called  to  see  if  any  of  our  men  were  missing  and  Mar- 
tinas ^  was  not  to  be  found,  but  Lieut.  Mark  McCall  informed 
me  that  immediately  upon  my  returning  to  the  head  of  the  col- 
umn, after  making  him  close  up,  he  fled  out  of  the  field.  We  lost 
but  few  men  ;  the  enemy  considerably  more.  It  is  thought  Gen. 
Washington  did  not  intend  to  hold  the  upper  part  of  the  town. 

1  This  man  appears  again  as  a  soldier  in  the  7th  company.  Captain 
John  Rhodes,  of  Colonel  David  Hall's  Delaware  regiment.  (See 
Whiteley's  Revolutionary  Soldiers  of  Delaware,  p.  30.) 


No.  53.    Commissioned  Officers  of  Rall's  Brigade,  Dec. 


Rail  Regiment. 

Colonel,  Johann  Gottlieb  Rail ;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  Balthasar 
Brethauer ;  Major,  Johann  Jost  Matthaus ;  Captains,  Johann 
Heinrich  Brubach  and  Heinrich  Ludwig  Boking  ;  Lieutenants, 
Johann  Heinrich  Sternickel,  Carl  Andreas  Kinen,  Gregorius 
Salzmann  and  Johannes  Stroebel ;  Ensigns,  Ludwig  Kinen,  Jacob 
Lebrecht  Fleck,  Carl  W'ilhelm  Kleinschmidt  and  Johann  Georg 

Von  Lossberg  Regiment. 

Lieutenant-Colonel,  Francis  SchefEer  ;  Major,  Ludwig  August 
von  Hanstein  ;  Captains,  Johann  Friedrich  von  Riess,  Friedrich 
Wilhelm  von  Benning,  Ernst  Eberhard  von  Altenbockum  and 
Adam  Christoph  Steding ;  Lieutenants,  Heinrich  Reinhard  Hille, 
Georg  Christian  Kimm,  Ernst  Christian  Schwabe,  Georg  Her- 
mann Zoll,  Ludwig  Wilhelm  Keller,  Wilhelm  Christian  Miiller 
and  Jacob  Piel ;  Ensigns,  Christian  August  von  Hobe,  Friedrich 
Franz  Grabe,  Friedrich  von  Zengen  and  Friedrich  Christoph 

I'on  Knyphausen  Regiment. 

Major,  Friedrich  Ludwig  von  Dechow ;  Captains,  Bernhard 
von  Biesenrodt,  Ludwig  Wilhelm  von  Lowenstein,  Barthold  Hel- 
frich  von  Schimmelpfennig  and  Jacob  Baum  ;  Lieutenants,  Carl 
Ludwig  von  Geyso,  Christian  Sobbe,  Andreas  \^'iederhold,  Nicho- 
las Vaupell,  Werner  von  Ferry,  Wilhelm  Ludwig  von  Romrodt ; 
Ensigns,  Carl  Friedrich  Fiihrer,  Wilhelm  von  Drach  and  Heinrich 


Lieutenant,  Friedrich  Wilhelm  von  Grothausen. 

Lieutenants,  Friedrich  Fischer  and  Johannes  Engelhardt. 
Judge  Advocate,  Friedrich  Moeller. 

[The  spelling  of  the  German  names  printed  on  this  and  following 
pages  is  often  obviously  inaccurate,  but  is  given  as  in  the  records.] 


No.  54.    General  Mercer  to  Colonel  Durkee. 

25  Dcr.  1776. 


You  are  to  see  that  your  men  have  three  days  provisions  ready 
cooked  before  12  o'clock  this  forenoon  —  the  whole  fit  for  duty 
except  a  Serjeant  and  six  men  to  be  left  with  the  baggage,  and  to 
parade  precisely  at  four  in  the  afternoon  with  their  arms,  accou- 
trements &  ammunition  in  the  best  order,  with  their  provisions 
and  blankets  —  you  will  have  them  told  off  in  divisions  in  which 
order  they  are  to  march  —  eight  men  a  breast,  with  the  officers 
fixed  to  their  divisions  from  which  they  are  on  no  account  to 
separate  —  no  man  is  to  quit  his  division  on  pain  of  instant  pun- 
ishment—  each  officer  is  to  provide  himself  with  a  piece  of  white 
paper  stuck  in  his  hat  for  a  field  mark.  You  will  order  your 
men  to  assemble  and  parade  them  in  the  valley  immediately 
over  the  hill  on  the  back  of  McConkey's  Ferry,  to  remain  there 
for  farther  orders  —  a  profound  silence  is  to  be  observed,  both 
by  officers  and  men,  and  a  strict  and  ready  attention  paid  to 
whatever  orders  may  be  given  —  in  forming  the  Brigade  Co. 
Durkee  takes  the  right,  Co.  Stone  left,  Co.  Bradley  on  the  left  of 
Co.  Durkee  &  Co.  Rawlings  on  the  Right  of  Co.  Stone  —  the 
Line  to  form  &  march  from  the  Right  —  Co.  Hutchinson  to  form 
by  themselves. 

Your  obt  s'v't 

H.  Mercer. 

No.  55.    Hessian  Outposts  of  Trenton. 

(The  initials  K  denote  regt.  von  Knyphausen ;  L,  von  Lossberg;  R,  Rail.) 
Referring  particularly  to  Lieutenant  Piel's  map,  page  124  ante, 
B  marks  the  spot  on  the  Pennington  road  where  the  picket  was 
stationed  on  Christmas  night.     The  personnel,  as  far  as  shown  by 
the  records,  has  been  already  given. 

F  is  the  post  on  the  River  road.  It  was  the  residence  of 
General  Dickinson  then  and  now  known  as  "The  Hermitage," 
being  to-day  a  part  of  the  homestead  of  the  Atterbury  estate. 
This  picket  was  called  the  Yager  post  and  was  in  charge  of  Lieu- 
tenant Friedrich  Wilhelm  von  Grothausen  with  two  non-commis- 
sioned officers,  Sergeant  Georg  Wilhelm  Hassell  and  Corporal 
Franz  Bauer,  and  fifty  yagers. 


H  is  the  post  at  the  Fox  Chase  Tavern  kept  by  Mrs.  Joseph 
Bond  on  the  Maidenhead  or  Brunswick  Road.  This  was  a  strong 
picket,  the  principal  one  of  the  cantonment,  and  from  this  point 
the  patrols  started  out  on  the  route  D  toward  the  left  wing  E  of 
the  same  picket  and  the  various  stations  of  guards  C\  C^,  C,  etc. 
to  post  B,  thence  to  post  F  and  back  again  through  the  chain  of 
sentries  to  the  tavern  above  mentioned.  As  we  have  said,  this 
picket  post  consisted  of  one  commissioned  ofificer,  one  non-com- 
missioned officer  and  about  seventy-five  men,  and  was  at  this 
critical  time  in  charge  of  Ensign  Franz  Friedrich  Grabe  of  the 
von  Lossberg  regiment.  Captain  Johann  Heinrich  Brubach  of 
the  Rail  regiment  was  also  there  on  Christmas  night  as  inspector 
of  the  guards,  Lieutenant-Colonel  Brethauer  having  been  relieved. 
The  rest  of  the  men  so  far  as  the  records  give  their  names  were  : 
Sergeant  Reinhard  (K),  Drummer  Christian  Schlieder  and  Fusi- 
lier Curt  Anhagen  (L),  Grenadier  Casper  Brede  (R),  Fusilier 
Christoph  Bucker  (L),  Fusiliers  Direll,  Doer  and  Fenner  (K), 
Grenadier  Johannes  Gerhardt  (R),  Fusilier  Heinrich  Goebell  (K), 
Fusilier  Johannes  Goebell  (L),  Fusilier  Werner  Hahn  (K),  Fusi- 
lier Friedrich  Hohbein  (L),  Grenadier  Jacob  Koch  (R),  Fusiliers 
Diedrich  Kruger,  Philipp  Matthias  and  Johannes  Heinrich 
Mohme  (L),  FusiUer  Reinhard  (K),  Grenadier  Heinrich  Rosb 
(R),  Fusilier  Anton  Schenck  (L),  Grenadiers  Philip  Wernick  and 
Nicholas  Wicke  (R). 

At  the  post  K,  the  tavern  formerly  owned  by  Rensselaer  Wil- 
liams, there  were  one  commissioned  officer,  five  non-commissioned 
officers  and  twenty-two  men  on  Christmas  night.  This  force  was 
then  commanded  by  Ensign  Heinrich  Zimmermann  of  the  von 
Borch  company  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment.  There  was  a 
guard  composed  of  Sergeant  Dietzell  and  nine  men  in  a  barn 
below  the  Ferry  road,  and  a  guard  of  Sergeant  Diemer  and  nine 
more  men  at  the  "Doctor  House."  A  patrol  from  the  tavern 
visited  these  small  posts  every  hour  during  the  night.  The  fol- 
lowing is  a  list  of  Ensign  Zimmermann's  command  on  Christmas 
night :  Sergeant  Christian  Diemer  (L),  Sergeant  Jacob  Dietzell 
(R),  Sergeant  Hamell  (K),  Corporal  Johannes  Wagener  (L), 
Corporal  Johannes  Wolfskeil  (R),  Drummer  Bechtell  (K),  Fusi- 
liers Carl  Baake  and  Heinrich  Brath  (L),  Fusiliers  Diebell,  Ditter 
and  Doering  (K),  Grenadiers  Caspar  Fey,  Johannes  Foerster 
and   Martin  Fuhrmann  (R),   Fusilier  Hattendorf  (K),   Fusilier 


Hendrick  Holste  (L),  Grenadier  Jost  Koehler  (R),  Fusilier 
Knieriem  (K),  Grenadiers  Dietricli  Koch,  Christoph  Loersch 
and  Christopher  Scheffer  (R),  Fusihers  Schreiber  and  Schroder 
(K),  Fusiliers  Wilhelm  Schweibe,  Heinrich  Seehaussen  and 
Friedrich  Tegetmeyer  (L),  Grenadier  Heinrich  Ulrich  (R). 

At  the  bridge  over  the  Assunpink  Creek  there  was  a  guard 
of  one  non-commissioned  officer  and  eighteen  men.  From  this 
bridge  a  Small  patrol  was  compelled  to  go  to  Doctor  Bryant's 
residence  every  half  hour  during  the  night.  The  guard  was  at 
the  flour  mill  on  the  south  side  of  the  bridge.  In  1680  Mahlon 
Stacy  had  built  on  this  site  a  mill  of  hewn  logs  one  and  one- 
half  stories  high.  In  17 14  Judge  William  Trent  had  purchased 
this  property  and  had  built  a  two-story  stone  mill.  This  was 
used  by  the  Hessians  as  a  commissary  storehouse.  The  men  in 
charge  of  this  guard  were  all  from  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment, 
Sergeant  Johannes  Mueller  of  the  von  Borck  company  being  the 
ranking  non-commissioned  officer.  In  the  middle  of  the  stone 
bridge  over  the  Assunpink  creek  was  a  hut  in  which  a  sentinel 
stood  and  another  sentinel  was  stationed  just  outside  of  the  mill. 

Besides  the  sergeant  just  referred  to,  the  following  men  were 
at  the  mill  on  Christmas  night :  Fusiliers  Caspar  Bambeg,  Georg 
Berg,  Engeland,  Kurtz  and  Schultz  (K). 

Next  to  the  mill  was  George  Bright's  two-story  stone  bakery, 
and  just  beyond  that  Jonathan  Richmond's  tavern.  In  the  wall 
of  the  bakery  was  embedded  a  rough  sandstone  block  with  the 
inscription  "  G.  B.  1756."  This  has  been  seen  in  position  by 
many  now  living.  In  the  bakery  were  stationed  :  Fusiliers  Hen- 
ninghausen,  Mueller,  Schmerer  and  Stroehler  (K). 

The  headquarters  guard-house  was  at  the  residence  of  Pontius 
Delare  Stille,  then  on  the  corner  of  Church  alley  and  King  street, 
and  now  still  standing  on  the  southeast  corner  of  Warren  and 
Perry  streets.  It  was  nearly  opposite  Colonel  Rail's  quarters, 
and  on  Christmas  night  the  guard  was  commanded  by  Lieutenant 
Johann  Heinrich  Sternickel  (R).  The  German  records  give  us 
the  names  of  only  four  of  the  watchguard  :  Corporal  Friedrich 
Eberth  (L),  Grenadier  Johannes  Lindermann  (R),  Fusilier  Hein- 
rich Rohrkoster  (L),  Fusilier  Daniel  Schmidt  (K). 

In  addition  to  these  picket  stations  there  was  a  strong  post 
midway  between  Trenton  and  Bordentown  at  the  drawbridge  over 
the  Crosswicks  Creek.     The  main  station  of  this  outpost  was  at 


the  drawbridge,  and  at  the  time  of  the  battle  it  was  commanded 
by  Lieutenant  Johannes  Stroebel  (R),  who  had  with  him  twenty- 
four  men.  Lieutenant  Heinrich  Reinhard  Hille  (L)  was  stationed 
a  short  distance  from  the  drawbridge  on  the  road  to  Allentown 
in  charge  of  twenty  soldiers.  On  the  road  to  Trenton  and  about 
a  quarter  of  a  mile  north  from  the  drawbridge  Captain  Heinrich 
Ludwig  Boking  (R),  with  one  non-commissioned  officer  and 
twenty  men,  occupied  three  farmhouses^  and  a  mile  nearer  Tren- 
ton Lieutenant  Wilhelm  Ludwig  von  Romrodt  of  the  von  Borck 
company  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  had  a  small  detach- 
ment of  two  non-commissioned  officers  and  fifteen  men.  The 
entire  number  of  soldiers  at  the  post  of  the  drawbridge  was  four 
commissioned  officers  and  eighty-two  men.  These  men  had  left 
Trenton  about  noon  on  December  24  for  a  forty-eight  hours'  tour 
of  duty  at  the  drawbridge,  and  of  course  the  surprise  at  Trenton 
on  December  26  found  them  still  at  their  posts.  It  appears  from 
one  statement  that  Colonel  Rail  and  his  Adjutant,  Lieutenant 
Piel,  visited  this  picket  on  two  occasions  during  the  occupancy  of 
Trenton,  but  other  accounts  deny  that  he  visited  any  picket  posts. 

The  detachment  of  Lieutenant  Stroebel  consisted  of  :  Sergeant 
Helmerich,  Corporals  Ahlhaursen  and  Heidmuller,  Drummer 
Christoph  Hattendorff  and  Fusilier  Wilhelm  Barthels  (L)  ;  Gren- 
adier Heinrich  Baumbach  (R) ;  Fusiliers  Christian  Grundmeyer, 
Curth  Herding,  Friedrich  Holsti,  Heinrich  Holste,  Carl  Laescke, 
Friedrich  Lehmkuhe,  Friedrich  Lucke,  Herman  Matthias,  Otto 
Mayer,  Conrad  Raabe,  Conrad  Rohmer,  Christoph  Schmoe,  Sie- 
mon  Schultz,  Otto  Schwacke  and  Julius  Seemele  (L) ;  Grenadier 
Heinrich  Sirbert  (R) ;  Fusiliers  Carl  Warsmith  and  Balthaser 
Weber  (L). 

The  detachment  of  Lieutenant  Heinrich  Reinhard  Hille  of  the 
drawbridge  picket  was :  Drummer  Mueller ;  Fusiliers  Beetz, 
Joachim  Bichard,  Biesse,  Wilhelm  Conrad,  Curth,  Eisenach,  Wie- 
gand,  Goebell,  Jackell  and  Heinrich  Krengell  (K)  ;  Grenadier 
Nicholas  Landgrebe  (R)  ;  Fusiliers  Heinrich  Melchior,  Ochse, 
Ruhl,  Schreiber,  Schrenck,  Seitz,  Stock,  Wilke  and  Zeiss  (K). 

The  detachment  of  Captain  Heinrich  Ludwig  Boking,  the 
senior  officer  of  the  drawbridge  picket,  was  as  follows  :  Sergeant 
Wilhelm  Kreiss,  Drummer  Heinrich  Briell,  Grenadiers  Conrad 
Arnd,  Georg  Draube,  Andreas  Fuhrmann,  Conrad  Gerth,  Michael 
Giese,  Caspar  Gundlach,  Assmath  Heiter,  Philip  Himmelreich, 


Christoph  Jordan,  Urban  Mueller,  Johannes  Nultejo,  Johannes 
Pfliging,  Johannes  Reinbold,  Heinrich  Reitz,  Heinrich  Rierch- 
hart,  Adam  Ritter,  Henricus  Scheffer,  Herman  Wagner  and 
Johannes  Wissmann  (R). 

The  picket  commanded  by  Lieutenant  Wilhelm  Ludwig  von 
Romrodt,  and  stationed  on  the  road  leading  from  the  drawbridge 
to  Trenton,  was  composed  of:  Corporals  Nicholas  Tenner  and 
Schmidt  (K)  ;  Grenadiers  Wilhelm  Andress  and  Adam  Back- 
hauss  (R)  ;  Fusiliers  Heinrich  Bodensieg  and  Heinrich  Buddie 
(L) ;  Fusiliers  Heinrich  Geisell,  Gottschalk,  Homberger,  Koeh- 
ler  and  Johannes  Muench  (K)  ;  Grenadier  Heinrich  Nadler  (R)  ; 
Fusilier  Peter  (K)  ;  Grenadiers  Conrad  Brassier,  Johannes  Rea- 
ther  (R)  ;  Fusilier  Conrad  Steinhard  (K)  ;  Grenadier  Georg 
Zange  (R). 

No.  56.    Hessians  who  escaped  Capture. 
Rail  Regiment. 

List  of  the  men  of  the  Rail  regiment  in  the  affair  at  Trenton 
who  were  not  captured :  the  initials  denote  their  companies,  as 
Matthaus  (M),  Poking  (B),  Body  (By),  Kohler  (K)  :  — 

Ensign  Ludwig  Kinen  (M),  Sergeants  Martin  Appell  (B),  Nich- 
olas Gundlack  (K),  Georg  Keuthe  (By),  Johannes  H.  Rueppell 
(B),  Andreas  Schneider  (By)  ;  Corporals  Matthaus  (M),  Ludwig 
Hordes  (B),  Heinrich  Koch  (M),  Wilhelm  Roese  (K),  Heinrich 
Schotte  (M)  and  Siemion  ^^'eltner  (K) ;  Drummers  Nicholas 
Bindernagell  (B),  Martin  Fiant  (B)  and  Christian  Franke  (B)  ;  For- 
ager Heinrich  Giesselmann  (B),  Forager  Georg  Schilling  (By) ;  Sur- 
geon Kuhlmann  (M)  ;  Grenadiers  Johannes  Amelung  (By),  Engel- 
hard Bartell  (By),  Henricus  Bartscher  (By),  Johannes  Behnert 
(K),  Johannes  Bernhardy  (B),  Rudolph  Bettenhausen  (M),  Justus 
Biermann  (B),  Johannes  Bolte  (B),  Georg  Bretthauer  (By),  Jacob 
Bruckman  (By),  Peter  Deisserath  (B),  Christoph  Diegemann  (M), 
Conrad  Doring  (By),  Georg  Dornemann  (M),  Heinrich  Emloth 
(K),  Heinrich  Engell  (By),  Johannes  Erchelenz  (B),  Paul  Ernest 
(M),  Johannes  Etzell  (K),  Georg  Ewald  (B),  Ludwig  Ewald 
(By),  Johannes  Giese  (M),  Georg  Goebell  (By),  Heinrich  Goertell 
(By),  Jacob  Gross  (By),  Peter  Gundlach  (By),  Christoph  Guthe 
(By),  Adam  Haensell  (B),  Georg  Hausler  (K),  Caspar  Hechenthal 
(B),  Conrad  Herboldt  (B),  Conrad  Hertzog  (By),  Churt  Hilgen- 
berg  (By),  Georg  Homburg  (M),  Heinrich  Horstmann  (B),  Martin 


Kahrsbach  (B),  Samuel  Kilmer  (By),  Georg  Kothe  (K),  Joseph 
Kothe  (K),  Johannes  Knopfel  (K),  Wilhelm  Kreutzberg  (M), 
Friedrich  Loenier  (B),  Christoph  Ludolph  (By),  Sylas  May  (B), 
Heinrich  Meyard  (B),  Conrad  Meybert  (By),  Diedrich  Mueller  (B), 
Johannes  ^Mueller  (Kj,  Heinrich  Neumeyer  (B),  Georg  Neurath 
(B),  Caspar  Noll  (By),  Georg  Nolte  (M),  Johannes  Nolte,  Sen.  (B), 
Friedrich  Orth  (K),  Alexander  Paul  (By),  Christian  Poepler  (B), 
Heinrich  Rang  (M),  Ernst  Riel  (M),  Daniel  Riemann  (B),  David 
Rietze  (B),  Jost  Roeddijer  (M),  Ludwig  Roeddijer  (K),  Johannes 
Rose  (M),  Heinrich  Schacht  (B),  Heinrich  Scheffer  (By),  Ludwig 
Scheffer  (By),  Conrad  Schehlhaase  (B),  Johannes  Scherpf  (B),  Jo- 
hannes Schultze(By),  Georg  Schwartz  (M),  Caspar  Schweitzer  (By), 
Johannes  Seeger  (M),  Wilhelm  Siemon  (K),  Johannes  Signer  (K), 
Christian  Ulrich  (M),  Georg  Umbach  (By),  Georg  Vocheurath 
(K),  Conrad  Vogeler  (K),  Christoph  Vogeler  (K),  Arnold  Wass- 
math  (M),  Caspar  Wenert  (M)  and  Christoph  Wiegand  (B). 

This  list  (of  I  officer  and  99  men)  was  prepared  in  Philadel- 
phia, April  6,  1778.  All  of  these  men  went  to  Bordentown  ex- 
cept Drummer  Bindernagell  and  Grenadier  Loenier  (B),  who  in 
some  way  joined  Captain  Baum  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regi- 
ment, and  wandered  off  with  him  to  Princeton. 

(There  is  no  statement  in  the  documents  in  Germany  as  to  the 
number  of  men  of  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  who  made  good 
their  escape,  although  Corporal  Wilhelm  Hardung  of  the  body 
company  testified  that  he  succeeded  in  eluding  capture.) 

Von  Ktiyphausen  Regiment. 

Roster  of  the  men  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  (50  offi- 
cers and  75  men)  at  Trenton.  Initials  denote  Minnigerode  (M), 
Body  (By),  Borck  (Bk),  Biesenrodt  (Bt),  Dechow  (D)  :  — 

Field  Preacher  Wilhelm  Bauer;  Captains  Jacob  Baum  and 
Barthold  Helfrich  von  Schimmelpfennig ;  Lieutenants  Nicholas 
Vaupell  and  Carl  Ludwig  von  Geyso ;  Sergeants  Eckhard  (M) 
and  Heinrich  Prinz  (Bt)  ;  Corporals  Heeland  (M),  Hopiann  (By), 
Leymann  (Bk),  Ruhl  (D),  Schwalm  (By),  Spertzell  (Bt),  Stumpf 
(D),  von  Dalwigk  (Bt)  and  Yager  (D)  ;  Drummers  Justus  Aune 
(Bt),  Ashmann  (By),  Froehlich  (D),  Abraham  May  (Bt) ;  Farriers 
Crausse  (Bk),  Wiegand  (Mj ;  Fusiliers  Abrecht  (By),  Johannes 
Arnth  (Bt),  Bastsen  (By),  Friedrich  Becker  (Bk),  Heinrich  Becker 


(Bt),  Werner  Blith  (Bt),  Johannes  Berg  (Bk),  Boeth  (D),  Heinrich 
Bonn  (Bk),  Johannes  Claus  (Bt),  Corell  (D),  Heinrich  Dipp  (Bk), 
Doehnhard  (D),  Dorst  (D),  Heinrich  Eisenach  (Bk),  Engeland, 
Sen.  (D),  Ernst  (By),  Adam  Eueller  (D),  Helwig  Fanner  (By), 
Heinrich  Grass  (Bk),  Johannes  Hamell  (Bt),  Andreas  Hass  (Bt), 
Georg  Haust  (Bt),  Hech  (By),  Conrad  Heiderich  (Bk),  Heine- 
mann  (D),  Kitz  (D),  Johannes  Klippert  (Bt),  Kochsen  (By),  Knaaf 
(D),  Kreuther  (M),  Caspar  Loos  (Bt),  Luckhard  (By),  Muench 
(D),  Conrad  Muhling  (Bk),  May  (M),  Menges  (D),  Johannes 
Rhein  (Bt),  Johannes  Riebeling  (Bt),  Johannes  Roeth  (Bk),  Rud- 
wig  (By),  Georg  Ruppert  (Bk),  Schmeiss  (M),  Georg  Schmidt 
(D),  Schreiber  (M),  Johannes  Schwalm  (By),  Johannes  Schwalm 
(Bk),  Heinrich  Seyl  (Bt),  Stauffenberg  (D),  Conrad  Stein  (Bt), 
Viehmann  (D),  Vogell  (D),  Heinrich  Volker  (Bt),  Ciriacus  Wag- 
ner (Bk),  Jacob  Wagner  (Bt),  Georg  Weckesser  (Bt),  Yaeger  (D) 
and  Zulanf  (M). 

Regiment  of  Artillery. 

April  10,  1778,  Lieutenant-Colonel  Hans  Heinrich  Eitel,  com- 
manding officer  of  the  Hessian  regiment  of  artillery,  and  at  that 
time  on  duty  in  Philadelphia,  prepared  a  list  of  his  men  (i  officer 
and  16  men)  who  had  escaped  capfure  in  the  surprise  at  Trenton  : 

Lieutenant  Johannes  Engelhardt ;  Bombardiers  Heinrich  Ide 
and  Johannes  Humberties  Westerburg ;  Artillerists  Bautzer,  Dil- 
forth,  Geisse,  Heckert,  Korn,  Christian  Kuhn,'  Kulm,  Loelekes, 
Muench,  Rasch,  Ruhl,  Schmeermund,  Zahn,  Zaun. 

A  small  guard  oi  ten  men  who  went  to  Princeton  with  baggage 
on  Christmas  day,  of  course  took  no  part  in  the  fight.  They  may 
be  said  to  have  escaped.     Their  names  were  :  — 

Corporal  Heinrich  Grebe  (M),  Grenadiers  Johannes  Brawn 
(M),  Bernard  Loose  (By),  Georg  Hesse  (K)  and  Wilhelm  Wim- 
melmann  (M),  all  of  Rail  regiment ;    Fusiliers    Koch,  Jr.  (By), 

^  Christian  Kuhn,  a  soldier  of  gigantic  stature,  after  escaping  from 
the  Trenton  battle,  appears  to  have  deserted  the  Hessian  Corps,  for 
later  on  in  the  war  he  joined  Captain  Zebulon  M.  Pike's  company  of 
Colonel  Stephen  Moylan's  Fourth  regiment.  Continental  dragoons,  and 
subsequently  was  discharged  therefrom  on  account  of  a  sabre  cut  on 
his  arm.  Under  Act  of  Congress,  August  11,  1790,  he  was  placed  on 
the  New  Jersey  Invalid  Pension  Roll  as  Christian  Koon,  spelled  also 
Khun,  Kuhn  and  Coon,  and  died  January  23,  1823,  at  Montgomery, 
Orange  County,  New  York. 


Nicholas   Luckhard   (D),   Ochse   (M),  Jacob  Schmidt  (M)  and 
Schumacher  (D),  all  of  von  Knyphausen  regiment. 

No.  57.    Return  of  Prisoners  taken  at  Trenton 

December  26,  1776,  by  the  Army  under  the  Command   of  General 




















0  2i 












Landspatch    .     .     , 



Knyphausen  . 










Rohl      . 

































6  dble  fortifyed  Brass  three  pound's  with  carreages  compleat. 

3  ammunition  Waggons,  As  many  Muskets,  Bayonets,  Cartouch  Boxes  and 
Swords  as  there  are  prisoners.     12  Drums. 

4  Colours. 

No.  58.    Hessian  Prisoners  of  War. 

List  of  the  Commissioned  and  Non-Commissioned  Officers,  Drum- 
mers and  Privates  of  the  Grenadier  Regiment  of  Rall,  now 
Prisoners  of  War. 


Companies'  Names. 


0  . 





'e  . 

0  <u 












Body  Company 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Kohler  .          .     . 
Lieutenant-Colonel  Brethauer       .     .     . 

Major  Matthaus       .                

Captain  Bbking .                    ... 









Total           .          .               .... 







Middle  and  under  Staff, 
I  Adjutant.  4  Hautboys. 

D.  Brethauer,  Lieutenant-Colonel. 



List  of.  the  Commissioned  and  Non-Commissioned  Officers,  Drum- 
mers AND  Privates  of  the  Regiment  of  von  Lossberg,  now  Pris- 
oners of  War. 





Companies'  Names. 



















Body  Company  .          .     .          .     . 







Lieutenant-Colonel  Scheffer     .... 








Captain  von  Altenbockum  ... 







Major  von  Hanstein    .          






Colonels  —  vacant  .               .     . 













T  Adjutant. 

Middle  and  under  Staff, 
I  Drum  Major. 

F.  Scheffer, 

5  Hautboys. 
Lieutenant-  Colonel. 

List  of  the  Commissioned  and  Non-Commissioned  Officers,  Drum- 
mers AND  Privates  of  the  Regiment  von  Knyphausen,  now  Pris- 
oners of  War. 


Companies'  Names. 

Body  Company  .  

Colonel  von  Borck 

Lieutenant-Colonel  von  Minnigerode 

Major  von  Dechow 

Captain  von  Biesenrodt 






Middle  and  under  Staff. 
I  Adjutant.  i  Judge.  i  Hautboy. 

VON  Biesenrodt,  Captain. 


List  of  the  several  detachments  of  Artillery  belonging  to  the 
Regiments  of  von  Lossberg,  von  Knyphausen  and  Rall,  taken 
IN  the  action  at  Trenton,  the  26th  of  December,  1776,  and 
NOW  remaining  Prisoners  of  War. 




Names  of  the  Detachments 

0     . 





















Of  the  Regiment  von  Lossberg     . 
Of  the  Regiment  von  Knyphausen 
Of  the  Regiment  Rall . 











Note.  —  That  exclusive  of  the  above-mentioned  prisoners,  there  are  3  Gun- 
ners wounded,  and  2  Gunners  sick,  who  remained  as  Prisoners  at  Trenton. 

F.  Fischer,  Lieat.  of  Artillery. 
Philadelphia  the  5th  January  1777. 

Postscript.  We  cannot  answer  for  the  exactness  of  these  Lists, 
because  the  Night  before  the  Troops  have  marched  to  Lancaster, 
some  Privates  have  joined  them.  Our  request  to  remain  with  the 
Subalterns  and  Privates  and  to  march  along  with  them  to  Lancas- 
ter, having  been  denied.  We  are  going  this  day  towards  Balti- 

Philadelphia  6th  January  1777. 

No.  59.    Roster  of  Officers  of  Rall's  Brigade. 

The  roster  of  officers  of  Rail's  brigade  and  their  condition  at 
the  close  of  the  Trenton  battle  may  be  stated  thus  :  — 

Rail  Regiment. 

Colonel  Johann  Gottlieb  Rall,  severely  wounded,  paroled,  and 
died  in  Trenton,  December  27,  1776;  Lieutenant-Colonel  Bal- 
thasar  Brethauer,  prisoner  and  died  while  a  prisoner  of  war; 
Major  Johann  Jost  Matthaus,  prisoner  ;  Captain  Johann  Heinrich 
Brubach,  prisoner  and  died  while  a  prisoner  of  war;  Captain 
Heinrich  Ludwig  Boking,  escaped  ;  Lieutenant  Johann  Heinrich 


Sternickel,  wounded,  paroled  and  died  while  a  paroled  prisoner 
of  war  in  Trenton  ;  Lieutenant  Carl  Andreas  Kinen,  prisoner 
(he  was  also  suffering  from  a  wound  received  at  Fort  Washing- 
ton) ;  Lieutenant  Gregorius  Salzmann,  paroled  in  Trenton  and 
remained  there  sick  for  many  months ;  Lieutenant  Johannes 
Stroebel,  escaped ;  Ensign  Ludwig  Kinen,  in  Bordentown  at  the 
time  of  the  fight ;  Ensign  Jacob  Lebrecht  Fleck,  prisoner  ;  En- 
sign Carl  Wilhelm  Kleinschmidt,  acting  as  adjutant  of  the  regi- 
ment, prisoner  ;  Ensign  Johann  Georg  Schroeder,  prisoner. 

Von  Lossberg  Regiment. 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Francis  Scheffer,  prisoner  ;  Major  Ludwig 
August  von  Hanstein,  prisoner ;  Captain  Johann  Friedrich  von 
Riess,  killed ;  Captain  Ernst  Eberhard  von  Altenbockum,  badly 
wounded,  paroled  in  Trenton  ;  but  he  soon  rejoined  his  regiment, 
probably  exchanged,  and  did  not  sign  the  parole  of  December 
27'*";  Captain  Adam  Christoph  Steding,  prisoner  ;  Captain  Fried- 
rich  Wilhelm  von  Benning,  killed  ;  Lieutenant  Heinrich  Rein- 
hard  Hille,  escaped  ;  Lieutenant  Georg  Christian  Kimm,  killed  ; 
Lieutenant  Ernst  Christian  Schwabe,  wounded,  paroled  and  left 
in  Trenton ;  Lieutenant  Ludwig  Wilhelm  Keller,  prisoner,  died 
at  Dumfries,  "Virginia,  October  6,  1777,  prisoner  of  war;  Lieu- 
tenant Georg  Hermann  Zoll,  acting  as  adjutant  of  the  regiment, 
wounded,  paroled  and  left  in  Trenton ;  Lieutenant  Wilhelm 
Christian  Miiller,,  prisoner;  Lieutenant  Jacob  Piel,  acting  as 
adjutant  of  the  brigade,  prisoner  ;  Ensign  Christian  August  von 
Hobe,  wounded  and  taken  prisoner;  Ensign  Friedrich  Franz 
Grabe,  prisoner  ;  Ensign  Friedrich  von  Zengen,  prisoner  ;  En- 
sign Friedrich  Christoph  Hendorff,  prisoner,  but  did  not  sign  the 
parole  of  December  27"'. 

Vo7i  Knyphausen  Regiment. 
Major  Friedrich  Ludwig  von  Dechow,  badly  wounded  and  died 
in  Trenton  December  27,  1776;  Captain  Bernhard  von  Biesen- 
rodt,  prisoner  ;  Captain  Ludwig  Wilhelm  von  Lowenstein,  pris- 
oner; Captain  Barthold  Helfrich  von  Schimmelpfennig,  escaped  ; 
Captain  Jacob  Baum,  escaped  ;  Lieutenant  Christian  Sobbe,  act- 
ing as  adjutant  of  the  regiment,  prisoner ;  Lieutenant  Andreas 
Wiederhold,  prisoner,  but  did  not  sign  the  parole  of  December 
27*'' ;  Lieutenant  Carl  Ludwig  von  Geyso,  wounded  and  escaped  ; 


Lieutenant  Nicholas  Vaupell,  escaped  ;  Lieutenant  Werner  von 
Ferry,  prisoner,  but  did  not  sign  the  parole  of  December  30* 
because  probably  he  signed  one  of  a  similar  kind  when  he  had 
permission  to  visit  Trenton ;  Lieutenant  Wilhelm  Ludwig  von 
Romrodt,  escaped ;  Ensign  Carl  Friedrich  Fuhrer,  prisoner,  but 
signed  a  separate  parole  from  the  rest  of  the  officers.  It  was 
said  that  he  joined  the  American  army ;  Ensign  Heinrich  Zim- 
mermann,  escaped ;  Ensign  Wilhelm  von  Drach,  prisoner. 

Lieutenant   Friedrich  Fischer,  prisoner ;  Lieutenant  Johannes 
Engelhardt,  escaped. 

Lieutenant  Friedrich  Wilhelm  von  Grothausen,  escaped,  but 
mortally  wounded   in   Trenton,  January  2,  1777,  and  died  soon 
afterward    in    Princeton ;    Judge    Advocate    Friedrich   Moeller, 

The  German  records  at  Marburg  give  us  some  personal  history 
of  a  few  of  these  officers,  related  by  themselves  under  oath,  and 
it  will  not  be  amiss  to  record  it  here.  It  shows  many  of  them 
to  have  been  veterans  in  war  and  to  have  entered  military  life  at 
a  very  early  age. 

Rail  Regiment. 

Major  Johann  Jost  Matthaus,  58  years  of  age,  was  born  at 
Schwarzenberg.  At  the  age  of  19  he  served  in  the  regiment 
Prinz  Carl,  then  in  the  von  Hugne  regiment,  and  was  finally  com- 
missioned in  the  Rail  regiment.     He  was  married. 

Captain  Heinrich  Ludwig  Boking,  35  years  old,  was  born  in 
Cassel,  and  joined  the  army  at  17  years  of  age.     He  was  married. 

Lieutenant  Carl  Andreas  Kinen,  19  years  of  age,  was  born  at 
Dillenburg.  He  had  been  in  service  for  three  years,  first  in  the 
regiment  von  Mirbach,  and  then  in  the  Rail  regiment.  He  had 
been  wounded  November  16,  1776,  at  the  assault  on  Fort  Wash- 
ington, and  had  come  to  Trenton  with  his  regiment,  though  he 
had  done  no  duty  with  it  on  account  of  these  wounds.  While 
trying  to  escape  over  the  bridge  in  the  fight,  he  had  been  cap- 
tured with  others  on  Queen  street  between  Second  and  Front 

Lieutenant  Johannes  Stroebel,  43  years  old,  was  born  at  Nie- 


der  Hessen,  and  had  been  in  the  Hessian  service  since  the  year 

Ensign  Ludwig  Kinen  was  born  in  the  same  village  as  his 
brother  Lieutenant  Kinen,  and  was  one  year  younger  than  that 
officer.     He  had  entered  the  army  at  16  years  of  age. 

Ensign  Jacob  Lebrecht  Fleck,  23  years  old,  was  born  at  Hom- 
burg,  had  joined  the  von  Donop  regiment  when  he  was  17  years 
of  age,  spent  a  year  therein,  and  was  then  transferred  to  the  Rail 
regiment  for  duty. 

Ensign  Johann  Georg  Schroeder,  22  years  old,  was  born  at 
Cassel.     This  was  his  first  year  of  service. 

Von  Lossberg  Regiment. 

Lieutenant-Colonel  Francis  Scheffer,  54  years  of  age,  was  born 
at  Hermsdorf,  had  been  in  service  thirty-five  years,  and  was  a 
married  man. 

Major  Ludwig  August  von  Hanstein  was  born  at  Obernhof, 
was  married,  and  had  been  twenty-eight  years  in  the  army,  first 
in  the  von  Donop  regiment,  then  in  the  Erbprinz,  and  finally 
in  the  von  Lossberg  regiment.     His  age  at  this  time  was  46  years. 

Captain  Ernst  Eberhard  von  Altenbockum,  40  years  of  age, 
was  the  commander  of  the  company  which  bore  his  name.  He 
was  born  at  Courland,  was  unmarried,  and  had  spent  twenty- 
two  years  in  the  Hessian  service. 

Captain  Adam  Christoph  Steding,  39  years  of  age,  commanded 
the  von  Loos  company  in  this  regiment.  He  was  born  in  Fisch- 
beck,  and  had  entered  military  life  at  16  years  of  age.  He  was 

Captain  Johann  Friedrich  von  Riess  was  the  son  of  Friedrich 
Jacob  von  Riess  of  Stallburg.  He  was  born  in  Frankfort-on-the- 
Main  in  the  year  1745.  His  family  came  from  Cassel,  and  were 
owners  of  the  salt  mines  at  Allendorf.  He  began  his  military 
life  as  a  lieutenant  in  the  Nassau  Weilburg  regiment,  Upper 
Rhenanian,  and  then  received  his  promotion  to  a  captaincy  in 
the  von  Lossberg  regiment,  only  to  meet  his  death  as  heretofore 

Captain  Friedrich  Wilhelm  von  Benning  of  the  von  Lossberg 
regiment  appears  in  the  German  records  as  a  first  lieutenant  in 
the  Leib  regiment  in  the  year  1766.  He  remained  in  this  office 
until  1773,  when  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  was  organized,  and 


then  he  was  made  a  staff  captain  therein.  In  this  commission  he 
came  to  America,  and  received  his  death  wound  at  the  head  of 
his  company. 

Lieutenant  Heinrich  Reinhard  Hille,  22  years  old,  was  born  in 
Rinteln,  and  for  nearly  two  years  had  been  in  service  in  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Scheffer's  company. 

Lieutenant  Ernst  Christian  Schwabe  was  also  born  at  Rinteln. 
He  had  been  in  the  body  company  of  this  regiment  for  sixteen 
years,  and  was  30  years  old  at  the  time  of  the  battle. 

Lieutenant  Georg  Hermann  Zoll  was  born  in  the  same  village 
as  Lieutenant  Schwabe  and  Lieutenant  Hille.  He  was  29  years 
of  age,  unmarried,  and  had  been  twelve  years  in  service. 

Lieutenant  Wilhelm  Christian  Miiller,  27  years  of  age,  was 
born  in  Ziegenhain.  He  had  been  in  Major  von  Hanstein's  com- 
pany for  nearly  eleven  years,  and  had  previously  served  for  two 
years  in  the  regiment  Prinz  Carl. 

Lieutenant  Jacob  Piel,  34  years  old,  was  born  in  Bremen,  and 
had  been  in  service  in  Major  von  Hanstein's  company  for  four- 
teen years.     He  was  not  married. 

Lieutenant  Georg  Christian  Kimm  appears  as  an  ensign  in  the 
Hessian  regiment  von  Barthold  in  1766.  When  the  von  Loss- 
berg  regiment  was  formed  in  1773,  Kimm  was  made  a  second 
lieutenant  in  that  organization.  In  1776  he  was  promoted  to  be 
a  first  lieutenant,  which  rank  he  held  when  he  fell  mortally 
wounded  in  the  streets  of  Trenton.  He  died  on  the  evening  of 
the  battle. 

Lieutenant  Christian  August  von  Hobe  was  born  in  Mecklen- 
burg, had  been  in  the  Colonel  von  Loos  company  for  six  years, 
and  was  22  years  old. 

Ensign  Friedrich  Franz  Grabe  was  born  in  Rinteln,  was  17 
years  of  age,  and  had  been  four  years  in  the  German  army. 

Ensign  Friedrich  von  Zengen  was  born  in  Bonenburg,  was  19 
years  old,  and  had  been  in  service  in  the  body  company  for  four 

Ensign  Friedrich  Christoph  Hendorff,  30  years  of  age,  was 
born  at  Rhinefels,  and  had  been  in  service  for  eight  years,  first 
in  the  Hessian  Hussar  corps,  and  since  February,  1776,  in  Major 
von  Hanstein's  company  of  this  regiment. 



Von  Knyphausen  Regiment. 

Major  Friedrich  Ludwig  von  Dechow  was  the  son  of  Hans  C, 
von  Dechow  of  Ratzeburg,  Mecklenburg-StreUtz,  in  which  place 
the  Hessian  soldier  was  born.  He  was  a  captain  in  the  Prussian 
army  under  Frederick  the  Great.  When  the  Hesse-Cassel  regi- 
ment named  after  General  von  Knyphausen  was  sent  to  America, 
he  became  its  major,  and  was  for  some  months  its  commanding 
officer.  He  was  wounded  quite  severely  at  Fort  Washington,  but 
soon  recovered.  He  was  an  experienced  officer,  and  in  his  com- 
mand enjoyed  a  reputation  for  great  personal  bravery.  The 
wound  which  he  received  at  the  Trenton  battle  was  in  the  left 
hip,  and  like  Colonel  Rail  he  died  the  next  day. 

Captain  Bernhard  von  Biesenrodt,  40  years  of  age,  was  born  in 
Ober  Kaufungen,  and  had  been  in  the  army  since  1755.  He  was 
commander  of  a  company  named  after  himself. 

Captain  Ludwig  Wilhelm  von  Lowenstein,  commander  of  the 
von  Borck  company,  was  born  at  Ronnenburg.  He  was  47  years 
of  age,  and  had  been  twenty-seven  years  in  the  Hessian  military 

Captain  Barthold  Helfrich  von  Schimmelpfennig,  37  years  of 
age,  was  born  in  Hersfeld,  and  had  been  for  twenty-four  years  in 
the  von  Knyphausen  regiment.  At  this  time  he  was  staff  captain 
in  the  von  Biesenrodt  company. 

Captain  Jacob  Baum  was  44  years  old,  and  twenty-six  of  those 
years  had  been  spent  in  service.  He  was  a  staff  captain  in  the 
body  company. 

Lieutenant  Christian  Sobbe  was  born  at  Freystadt,  was  2)Z 
years  old,  unmarried,  and  had  been  in  this  regiment  for  nineteen 

Lieutenant  Carl  Ludwig  von  Geyso  was  born  at  Marbach,  and 
was  nearly  20  years  old.  He  was  first  in  the  regiment  Prinz 
Carl,  then  in  the  battalion  of  the  guard,  and  then  in  Major  von 
Dechow's  company  of  this  regiment.  He  had  entered  the  army 
in  1774. 

Lieutenant  Nicholas  Vaupell  was  born  at  Muden.  He  be- 
longed to  the  body  company,  but  on  the  day  of  the  battle  was 
on  duty  with  the  von  Dechow  company.  He  was  a  married 

Lieutenant  Werner  von   Ferry,  23  years  of  age,  was  born  in 


Munster,  and  had  served  seven  years  in  the  body  company  of 
this  regiment. 

Lieutenant  Wilhelm  Ludwig  von  Romrodt,  28  years  of  age, 
was  born  near  Ziegenhain.  He  had  served  in  the  von  Borck 
company  for  six  years. 

Lieutenant  Andreas  Wiederhold  was  24  years  of  age  and  a 
bright  and  active  officer.  He  died  at  Cassel  in  1803,  then  major 
and  inspector  of  the  arsenal. 

Ensign  Heinrich  Zimmermann,  21  years  old,,  was  born  at  Cas- 
sel, and  had  joined  the  von  Borck  company  in  February,  1776. 

Ensign  Wilhelm  von  Drach  was  born  at  Ellrichshausen.  At 
the  time  of  the  battle  he  was  18  years  old  and  was  serving  in  the 
von  Minnigerode  company. 


Lieutenant  Friedrich  Fischer,  38  years  old,  was  born  in  Nie- 
dernhausen  and  had  been  twenty  years  in  service. 

Lieutenant  Johannes  Engelhardt  was  born  in  Cassel.  He  was 
23  years  of  age,  and  had  been  in  the  army  but  one  year. 

No.  60.     Lord  Stirling  to  Governor  Livingston. 

New  Town,  December  28th  1776 
My  Dear  Sir: 

I  dare  say  you  have  heard  of  our  little  expedition  to  Trentown, 
on  the  night  of  the  25* ;  the  result  was,  that  we  made  a  most 
complete  surprise  on  them,  and  have  taken  and  killed  at  least 
one  thousand  two  hundred  of  the  best  of  Hessian  troops,  with 
their  artillery  and  stores.  The  effect  is  amazing;  the  enemy 
have  deserted  Borden  Town,  Black  Horse,  Burlington,  Mount 
Holly  and  are  fled  to  South  Amboy  ;  we  are  now  in  possession 
of  all  those  places,  and  the  spirit  of  that  part  of  the  country  is 

I  write  this  at  the  request  of  General  Washington,  with  a  lame 
hand,  but  I  hope  it  will  be  well  enough  to  give  them  another 
drubbing  soon.  I  had  the  honour  to  make  two  regiments  of 
them  surrender  prisoners  of  war  and  to  treat  them  in  such  a  style 
as  will  make  the  rest  of  them  more  willing  to  surrender  than  to 

i      I 


God  bless  you ;  be  active  and  make  the  State  of  New  Jersey 
what  it  ought  to  be. 

Most  affectionately  yours 


No.  61.    Proclamation  by  the  Pennsylvania  Council  of 


In  Council  ok  Safety  December  31  1776 
To  the  Public  : 

There  arrived  yesterday  in  this  City  near  one  thousand  Hes- 
sian prisoners  taken  by  his  Excellency  Gen'l  Washington  in  his 
late  fortunate  and  successful  Expedition  to  New  Jersey.  The 
General  has  recommended  to  this  Council  to  provide  suitable 
Quarters  for  them  and  it  is  his  earnest  wish  that  they  may  be 
well  treated  and  have  such  principles  instilled  into  them,  whilst 
they  remain  prisoners,  that  when  they  return  on  being  exchanged 
they  may  fully  open  the  Eyes  of  their  Countrymen  in  the  service 
of  the  King  of  Great  Britain  who  at  present  are  not  a  little  jealous 
of  their  English  fellow  soldiers. 

These  miserable  creatures  now  justly  excite  our  Compassion. 
They  have  no  Enmity  with  us.  According  to  the  arbitrary  cus- 
toms of  the  tyrannical  German  Princes,  they  were  dragg'd  from 
their  native  Country,  and  sold  to  a  foreign  Monark,  without 
either  consulting  their  inclinations  or  informing  them  of  the  place 
they  were  destined  for,  or  the  Enemy  they  were  to  contend  with. 
Their  pay  a  mere  pittance,  they  were  necessitated  and  encouraged 
to  plunder.  It  is  therefore  nothing  strange  that  they  have  been 
guilty  of  great  irregularities,  tho'  inferior  to  the  brutal  behaviour 
of  the  British  Troops.  But  from  the  moment  they  are  rescued 
from  the  authority  of  the  British  Officers,  we  ought  no  longer  to 
regard  them  as  our  Enemies,  at  least  whilst  their  Conduct  will 
Justifie  our  favourable  opinion.  'T  is  Britain  alone  that  is  our 
Enemy;  all  the  rest  of  Europe  is  from  the  strongest  motives 
interested  in  our  favour.  'T  is  the  Officers  and  Troops  of  Britain 
only  that  are  heartily  engaged  in  this  unjust  war  against  us  from 
rancour,  pride  and  ambition  and  notwithstanding  the  pains  they 
have  taken  to  prejudice  the  Germans  against  us,  we  hope  they 
will  find  it  impossible  to  prevail  on  them  much  longer  to  imbrue 
their  hands  in  the  blood  of  the  Americans,  many  of  whom  are 
their  Countrymen.     The  most  favourable  opportunity  now  offers 


to  weaken  the  force  of  our  Enemies  by  making  their  Auxiliaries 
our  friends,  and  we  earnestly  entreat  you  to  embrace  it  by  sup- 
pressing any  resentment  that  might  naturally  arise  on  recollecting 
their  late  hostility  and  treating  the  much  injured  and  deceived 
Hessians  now  in  our  power  in  the  most  friendly  manner,  as  a 
people  we  would  wish  to  unite  with  ourselves  in  improving  the 
fertile  forrests  of  America,  extending  its  manufacture  &  Com- 
merce and  maintaining  its  Liberty  and  independency  against  all 
attacks  of  foreign  &  Arbitrary  Power. 

No.  62.  Count  de  Schaumburg  to  Baron  Hohendorf.' 

Monsieur  le  Baron  : 

On  my  return  from  Naples,  I  received  at  Rome  your  letter  of 
the  27''>  December  of  last  year.  I  have  learned  with  unspeak- 
able pleasure  the  courage  our  troops  exhibited  at  Trenton,  and 
you  cannot  imagine  my  joy  on  being  told  that  of  the  1950  Hes- 
sians engaged  in  the  fight,  but  345  escaped.  There  were  just 
1605  men  killed  and  I  cannot  sufficiently  commend  your  prudence 
in  sending  an  exact  list  of  the  dead  to  my  minister  in  London. 
This  precaution  was  the  more  necessary,  as  the  report  sent  to 
the  English  ministry  does  not  give  but  1455  dead.  This  would 
make  483,450  florins  instead  of  the  643,500  which  I  am  intitled 
to  demand  under  our  convention.  You  will  comprehend  the 
prejudice  which  such  an  error  would  work  in  my  finances,  and  I 
do  not  doubt  you  will  take  the  necessary  pains  to  prove  that 
Lord  North's  list  is  false  and  yours  correct. 

The  court  of  London  objects  that  there  were  a  hundred 
wounded  who  ought  not  to  be  included  in  the  list,  nor  paid  for 
as  dead  ;  but  I  trust  you  will  not  overlook  my  instructions  to  you 
on  quittiiig  Cassel  and  that  you  will  not  have  tried  by  human 
succor  to  recall  to  life  the  unfortunates  whose  days  could  not  be 
lengthened  but  by  the  loss  of  a  leg  or  arm.  That  would  be  mak- 
ing them  a  pernicious  present  and  I  am  sure  they  would  rather 
die  than  live  in  a  condition  no  longer  fit  for  my  service.  I  do 
not  mean  by  this  that  you  should  assassinate  them  :  we  should 
be  humane,  my  dear  Baron,  but  you  may  insinuate  to  the  sur- 
geons with  entire  propriety  that  a  crippled  man  is  a  reproach  to 

^  Dr.  Benjamin  Franklin  is  generally  believed  to  have  been  the 
author  of  this  satirical  letter.  Tyler's  Literary  History  of  the  Ameri- 
can Revolution,  vol.  ii.  p.  380.  Bigelow's  Life  of  Benjamin  Franklin, 
vol.  ii.  p.  395. 


their  profession  and  that  there  is  no  wiser  course  than  to  let 
every  one  of  them  die  when  he  ceases  to  be  fit  to  fight. 

I  am  about  to  send  you  some  new  recruits.  Don't  economize 
them.  Glory  is  true  wealth.  There  is  nothing  degrades  a  soldier 
like  the  love  of  money.  He  must  care  only  for  honour  and  repu- 
tation, but  this  reputation  must  be  acquired  in  the  midst  of 
dangers.  A  battle  gained  without  costing  the  conqueror  any 
blood  is  an  inglorious  success,  while  the  conquered  cover  them- 
selves with  glory  by  perishing  with  their  arms  in  their  hands. 
Do  you  remember  that  of  the  300  Lacedemonians  who  defended 
the  defile  at  Thermopylae,  not  one  returned  ?  How  happy  should 
I  be  could  I  say  the  same  of  my  brave  Hessians ! 

It  is  true  that  their  King  Leonidas  perished  with  them  !  but 
things  have  changed,  and  it  is  no  longer  the  custom  for  Princes 
of  the  Empire  to  go  and  fight  in  America  for  a  cause  with  which 
they  have  no  concern.  And  besides,  to  whom  should  they  pay 
the  30  guineas  per  man  if  I  did  not  stay  in  Europe  to  receive 
them  ?  Then  it  is  necessary  also  that  I  be  ready  to  send  recruits 
to  replace  the  men  you  lose.  For  this  purpose  I  must  return  to 
Hesse.  It  is  true  grown  men  are  becoming  scarce  there  but  I 
will  send  the  boys.  Besides  the  scarcer  the  commodity  the  higher 
the  price.  I  am  assured  that  the  women  and  little  girls  have 
begun  to  till  our  lands,  and  they  get  on  not  badly.  You  did  right 
to  send  back  to  Europe  that  Doctor  Crumerus  who  was  so  suc- 
cessful in  curing  dysentery.  Don't  bother  with  a  man  who  is 
subject  to  looseness  of  the  bowels.  That  disease  makes  bad 
soldiers.  One  coward  will  do  more  mischief  in  an  engagement 
than  ten  brave  men  will  do  good.  Better  that  they  burst  in  their 
barracks  than  fly  in  a  battle  and  tarnish  the  glory  of  our  arms. 
Besides,  you  know  that  they  pay  me  as  killed  for  all  who  die 
from  disease  and  I  don't  get  a  farthing  for  runaways.  My  trip  to 
Italy,  which  has  cost  me  enormously,  makes  it  desirable  that 
there  should  be  a  great  mortality  among  them.  You  will  therer 
fore  promise  promotion  to  all  who  expose  themselves ;  you  will 
exhort  them  to  seek  glory  in  the  midst  of  dangers  ;  you  will 
say  to  Major  Maundorf  that  I  am  not  at  all  content  with  his 
saving  the  345  men  who  escaped  the  massacre  at  Trenton. 
Through  the  whole  campaign  he  has  not  had  ten  men  killed  in 
consequence  of  his  orders.  Finally,  let  it  be  your  principal 
object  to  prolong  the  war  and  avoid  a  decisive  engagement  on 


either  side,  for  I  have  made  arrangements  for  a  grand  Italian 
opera  and  I  do  not  wish  to  be  obliged  to  give  it  up.  Meantime 
I  pray  God,  my  dear  Baron  de  Hohendorf,  to  have  you  in  his 
holy  and  gracious  keeping. 

No.  63.    Colonel  von  Donop  to  General  Knyphausen. 
Quarters  at  Allentown  December  27th  1776. 

Perhaps  your  excellency  has  been  already  informed  of  the 
unpleasant  affair  which  happened  to  the  Rail  brigade,  but  I  think 
it  my  duty  to  report  to  you.  On  the  21^'  instant  I  received  word 
from  Colonel  Block  at  Black  Horse,  where  his  battalion  was 
posted  with  the  42""^  Regiment,  that  a  party  of  rebels  had 
marched  into  Mount  Holly,  and  that  as  yet  he  had  been  unable 
to  ascertain  its  real  strength,  some  reporting  it  two  and  some 
four  thousand  strong.  I  informed  Colonel  Rail  immediately  and 
advised  him  to  be  on  his  guard  because  while  I  believed  the 
enemy  would  attack  me,  they  might  also  make  a  demonstration 
against  him.  I  arranged  my  plans  so  that  I  felt  safe  in  case  of  a 
surprise  and  the  next  morning  went  myself  to  Black  Horse.  I 
found  the  enemy  had  all  except  a  few  patrols  moved  out  no  far- 
ther than  the  meeting  house  this  side  of  Mount  Holly.  Immedi- 
ately on  my  return  to  Bordentown  the  alarm  guns  which  I  had 
ordered,  were  discharged  at  three  o'clock  in  the  afternoon  by  the 
two  battalions  at  the  Black  Horse  and  by  the  battalion  von  Lin- 
singen  lying  between  Black  Horse  and  Bordentown.  I  informed 
Colonel  Rail  immediately  and  returned  instantly  to  Black  Horse. 
I  found  my  men  all  under  arms  because  as  soon  as  I  had  left 
four  or  five  hundred  rebels  had  attacked  the  picket  at  Rancocas 
bridge,  but  effected  nothing  but  the  withdrawal  of  the  twelve 
Scotish  soldiers  and  their  sergeant  Captain  von  Eshwege  who 
was  quartered  with  his  company  in  a  house  near  came  to  their 
assistance  and  a  picket  of  grenadiers  that  was  stationed  just 
beyond  him  and  the  rebels  did  not  move  a  step  further. 

In  order  to  rid  myself  of  these  unpleasant  guests  I  went  next 
morning  with  the  42"*^  Regiment,  the  two  battalions  Block  and 
von  Linsengen  directly  to  Mount  Holly.  I  met  a  few  hundred 
men  at  the  meeting  house  but  after  firing  a  few  shots  they  ran 
away  and  the  whole  party  took  the  road  to  Moorestown.  They 
were  about  a  thousand  men  strong  and  under  the  command  of 


Colonel  Griffin.  It  was  the  fault  of  one  of  my  patrols  that  I  did 
not  get  on  them  as  I  wished,  for  the  patrol  went  against  my  direc- 
tion too  far  in  advance.  I  had  no  wounded  or  dead  men,  but 
the  rebels  had  three  caused  by  my  artillery  fire  although  but  a 
few  shots  were  fired.  At  the  attack  on  Rancocas  bridge  Captain 
von  Eshwege's  company  had  two  and  the  guard  of  Scotsmen 
two  slightly  wounded  men.  The  battalion  von  Linsengen  then 
marched  back  again  to  their  former  quarters,  Mansfield  Square, 
in  order  to  be  near  Bordentown,  and  the  other  two  battalions 
remained  at  Mount  Holly  to  gather  food  and  forage  for  the  stores 
at  Bordentown.  There  was  nothing  in  Colonel  Rail's  reports, 
and  more  especially  in  the  communications  from  General  Grant 
to  fear  at  Trenton.  The  following  morning  I  regret  to  say  proved 
the  contrary.  Lieutenant  Colonel  von  Minnigerode  reported  to 
me  that  he  had  heard  by  a  messenger  that  the  rebels  had  sur- 
prised the  Rail  brigade  this  morning  at  Trenton  between  eight 
and  nine  o'clock  and  that  they  were  ten  to  twelve  thousand 
strong.  Soon  after  this  Lieutenant  Colonel  von  Minnigerode 
sent  an  officer  to  me  saying  the  report  of  the  surprise  at  Trenton 
had  been  confirmed  by  many  who  had  escaped  from  there.  I 
went  immediately  back  to  Black  Horse,  reinforced  the  command 
at  the  Crosswicks  bridge  so  as  to  keep  open  the  way  to  Prince- 
ton. According  to  all  the  reports  of  the  men  who  escaped  from 
Trenton  and  the  statements  of  patrols  I  had  sent  in  that  direction, 
the  whole  Rail  brigade  has  been  lost  and  many  thousand  rebels 
are  in  their  quarters.  I  did  not  think  it  advisable  for  me  to 
remain  any  longer  in  so  dangerous  a  situation,  surrounded  on  all 
sides  by  the  enemy  and  cut  off  from  all  communication  with 
Princeton.  I  was  also  assured  that  a  large  part  of  the  rebels  had 
turned  to  Princeton  and  I  had  not  the  slightest  word  from  Gen- 
eral Leslie.  My  ammunition  had  run  low,  only  about  nine  car- 
tridges to  a  cannon  and  very  little  indeed  for  the  fire-locks. 
Even  if  I  had  thought  proper  to  face  all  attacks  from  the  enemy 
in  my  dangerous  position,  to  remain  in  Bordentown  and  wait  for 
a  doubtful  success  I  would  not  dare  to  do  it  on  account  of  the 
shortage  of  ammunition.  Therefore  after  due  consideration  I 
withdrew  to  Allentown  which  is  twelve  English  miles  from  Prince- 
ton and  informed  General  Leslie  of  this  fact.  This  place  is  so 
situated  that  I  can  push  through  from  here  or  in  one  day  if  neces- 
sary resume  my  former  position.     I  have  brought  all  my  baggage 


along,  but  I  am  sorry  I  am  compelled  to  leave  about  twenty  sick 
and  wounded  at  Bordentown,  with  a  stock  of  provisions  and 
forage.  Some  of  the  men  were  not  able  to  be  carried  and  the 
wagons  were  too  scarce  to  carry  the  rations,  which  will  therefore 
I  fear  fall  into  the  hands  of  the  rebels.  I  have  organized  all  the 
escaped  men  from  the  Rail  brigade  and  made  up  a  force  of  two 
hundred  and  ninety-two  men,  including  the  command  at  the 
drawbridge  of  one  Captain,  three  officers  and  one  hundred  men. 
Lieutenant  von  Grothausen  with  fifty  yagers  who  had  his  com- 
mand at  Trenton,  with  a  detachment  of  light  infantry  and  dra- 
goons, except  one  yager  who  was  killed  and  one  sick  soldier, 
escaped  from  the  fight.  Colonel  Rail  it  is  said  is  mortally 
wounded  and  so  is  Major  von  Dechow.  Lieutenant  Colonel 
Bretthauer  and  many  of  the  officers  have  been  wounded,  some  of 
them  killed.  I  could  not  find  anything  more  definite  than  this. 
All  the  cannon  and  flags  of  the  brigade  are  lost  and  the  prisoners 
taken  amount  to  seven  hundred  men. 

I  am  Your  Excellency's  ser't  &c  Donop. 

Whether  this  affair  was  an  accident  or  whether  a  mistake  had 
been  made  could  not  be  determined  from  the  stories  told  by 
the  fugitives.  All  agree,  however,  that  if  Colonel  Rail  with  his 
brigade  had  retreated  over  the  bridge  and  then  destroyed  it  he 
could  have  saved  his  command  instead  of  fighting  for  an  hour 
against  such  heavy  odds.  Nevertheless  it  certainly  proves  his 
splendid  courage  and  that  of  his  regiments,  and  this  at  least  is 
greatly  to  their  honour.  Even  the  two  regiments,  the  von  Loss- 
berg  and  his  own,  could  have  been  saved.  The  death  of  Colonel 
Rail  has  therefore  avoided  a  painful  investigation,  for  he  would 
have  had  to  answer  for  this  grave  responsibilit)'. 

No.  64.    General  Grant  to  Colonel  von  Donop. 

Brunswick  27th  Dec  1776 

Colonel  Rail's  Defeat  is  a  most  unfortunate  business.     I  did 

not  think  that  all  the  Rebels  in  America  would  have  taken  that 

Brigade  Prisoners  —  one  must  not  judge  rashly  of  People  who 

have  been  unfortunate  but  if  you  had  been  there  and  had  found 

yourself  overpowered  by  numbers,  if  I  am  not   mistaken,  you 

would  have  contrived  to  retreat  across  the  bridge  to  Bordenton  — 

VON    HEISTER    TO    THE    PRINCE   OF    HESSE       401 

the  Light  Dragoons,  Light  Infantry  and  it  appears  from  your  let- 
ter to  General  Leslie  that  200  Hessians  did  so.  After  all  that 
has  happened  if  I  was  with  you,  your  Grenadiers  and  Yagers  I 
should  not  be  afraid  of  an  attack  from  Washington's  Army,  which 
is  almost  naked  and  does  not  exceed  8000  men  including  Lee's, 
Gates's  and  Arnold's  Corps.  I  have  sent  an  express  to  General 
Howe  and  till  I  receive  his  commands  about  the  future  Arrange- 
ment of  our  cantonments,  I  must  beg  of  you  to  remain  at  Allen- 
town,  or  if  that  should  not  be  practicable,  for  I  don't  know  the 
place,  you  must  crowd  into  Princetown,  Maidenhead,  Cranbury 
and  Kingston. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be.  Sir,  Your  most  obed't  h'lle  servant 

James  Grant. 

No.  65.    General  von  Heister  to  the  Prince  of  Hesse. 

To  His  Highness  the  Prince  of  Hesse 
Merciful  Father  of  the  Country  ! 

Your  Highness  has  I  trust  seen  my  letter  of  the  2^^  of  Decem- 
ber. The  fate  of  war  which  I  had  such  good  reason  to  praise  in 
my  last  letter  and  which  I  humbly  hope  pleased  your  Highness 
has  given  us  a  sad  example  of  its  inconstancy  —  which  is  hard 
indeed  for  every  true  Hessian.  The  pain  the  first  report  gave  me 
it  is  unnecessary  to  describe  and  I  feel  it  anew  when  I  am  com- 
pelled to  repeat  it  to  you  who  must  feel  the  loss  of  even  a  single 
subject.  The  three  regiments  of  von  Lossberg,  von  Knyphausen 
and  Rail  which  were  quartered  at  Trenton  in  New  Jersey  were  on 
the  26*  of  December  surprised  and  attacked  by  a  superior  force 
of  the  rebels  an  account  of  which  you  may  read  in  the  enclosed 
journal  written  up  to  the  27'h  of  December.  After  a  defense  of 
nearly  an  hour  and  a  half  the  entire  body  of  officers  and  a  large 
part  of  the  men  had  been  killed  or  wounded,  the  rest  were  sur- 
rounded and  made  prisoners.  The  fifteen  flags  and  the  six  can- 
non were  also  lost.  A  small  balance  of  292  men  as  near  as  I  can 
ascertain  saved  themselves  and  joined  Colonel  von  Donop's 
force.  They  will  be  according  to  my  request  sent  to  General 
Howe's  quarters  and  I  therefore  expect  them  daily.  After  they 
have  rested  and  recruited  themselves,  if  in  fit  condition,  I  will 
form  them  into  a  separate  battalion  which  can  be  assigned  to 
"  Colonel  von  Donop's  command  and  a  Staff  officer  can  be  placed 
in  charge  of  them.     On  the  3'^  inst.  I  sent  Quarter  Master  Muller 


of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  with  twelve  men  of  the  brigade 
with  permission  of  the  General  in  Chief  to  Philadelphia  to  assist 
the  prisoners  there  with  money  and  underclothing  until  their  re- 
lease for  which  I  am  working  very  hard.  If  Colonel  Rail  has 
made  a  mistake  and  caused  this  mishap  nothing  positive  can  be 
said  until  the  imprisoned  officers  can  be  examined.  According 
to  the  story  of  the  men  who  escaped  through  his  hot-headedness 
he  was  not  willing  to  retreat  and  sacrificed  his  men  because  rather 
than  use  the  bridge  behind  him  which  he  could  have  held  pos- 
session of  with  advantage.  His  death  does  away  with  many 
investigations  and  many  complications.  I  have  always  judged 
him  stronger  in  the  attack  than  in  the  defense.  The  former  he 
gallantly  displayed  at  Fort  Knyphausen.  Just  now  I  receive  the 
report  that  an  English  brigade  has  shared  the  same  fate  as  the 
Rail  brigade,  but  I  am  not  able  to  say  how  true  this  is.  The 
English  regiments  have  no  flags  and  cannon  with  them  and  so 
they  are  saved  the  misfortune  of  losing  them.  The  farther  events 
your  Highness  will  see  in  the  Continental  journales.  I  lay  these 
facts  before  you  and  I  am  yours  humbly. 

VON  Heister. 
New  York  5th  of  January  1777. 

No.  66.    Earl  of  Suffolk  to  General  von  Heister. 

St  James  3rd  March  1777. 

The  Baron  de  Kuzleben  has  sent  me  the  letter  which  you  hon- 
ored me  with  of  date  January  28*,  but  that  of  December  2^^^ 
never  reached  me.  It  was  with  great  sorrow  that  we  heard  of 
the  disaster  which  happened  to  the  Hessian  brigade,  by  which 
this  most  brilliant  campaign  was  closed  by  the  loss  of  so  many 
brave  men.  In  deploring  the  death  of  Colonel  Rail  we  are  not 
able  at  the  same  time  to  avoid  the  fact  that  his  great  rashness 
interfered  with  him  as  the  commander  of  a  post  where  he  should 
have  tried  to  preserve  the  lives  of  his  men.  We  will  always  con- 
tinue to  hope  that  the  occasion  will  present  itself  that  the  troops 
of  his  Serene  Highness  may  be  able  to  give  essential  proof  of 
their  valour  in  the  service  of  His  Majesty,  and  that  you  will  have 
to  send  us  great  accounts  of  their  brave  conduct. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be  With  great  esteem,  Sir, 
Your  very  humble  &  very  obt  servant 


WRATH    OF    THE    PRINCE    OF   HESSE  403 

No.  67.    Prince  of  Hesse  to  Lieutenant-General  von 

Cassel,  i6th  of  June  1777. 

I  expected  to  receive  the  particulars  of  the  fatal  affair  at  Tren- 
ton on  the  return  of  Quarter  Master  Mueller  from  Lieutenant 
General  von  Heister.  This  has  not  been  done  and  I  therefore 
expect  and  demand  of  the  Lieutenant  General  all  the  information 
necessary  to  give  light  on  this  unlucky  business,  and  enable  me 
to  judge  of  the  proper  sentence.  The  general  description  has 
not  yet  been  received  and  all  the  minor  points  are  still  wanting. 
Quarter  Master  Mueller's  diary  does  not  mention  a  word  of  it. 
My  sensitive  feelings  are  not  quieted  and  the  painful  shock  not 
lessened  by  keeping  from  me  the  details  of  this  affair.  I  there- 
fore repeat  the  demand  on  the  Lieutenant  General  for  a  thorough 
investigation  of  the  whole  matter.  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer 
particularly  and  the  commanding  officers  of  the  other  two  regi- 
ments must  on  their  return  from  imprisonment  be  subject  to  the 
severest  investigation.  The  former  must  especially  be  questioned 
why  he  did  not  take  command  immediately  after  Colonel  Rail 
was  wounded  and  why  he  did  not  try  to  remedy  the  disaster 
when  he  knew  that  Colonel  Rail  was  disabled  from  further 
command  ? 


Court  Geismar,  August  3,  1777 

As  soon  as  the  three  captured  regiments  are  exchanged,  the 
Lieutenant  General  is  requested,  as  he  has  been  already  ordered 
to  establish  a  court  martial  in  which  a  Major  General  shall  pre- 
side and  all  these  questions  must  be  answered  : 

1.  — At  what  time  in  the  day  were  the  regiments  attacked  and 
captured  ? 

2.  —  How  strong  was  the  force  of  the  enemy  ? 

3.  —  What  plans  had  Colonel  Rail  made  in  case  his  regiments 
were  attacked  ? 

4.  —  Were  the  quarters  of  the  regiments  separated  or  near  to- 
gether ?  What  precautions  were  taken  and  were  there  any  patrols, 
sent  out  to  obtain  information  as  to  the  near  approach  of  the 
enemy  ? 

5.  —  How  did  the  regiments  defend  themselves  and  how  long 


did  this  defense  continue  ?     How  heavy  was  the  loss  of  wounded 
and  dead  on  our  side  and  how  great  on  the  side  of  the  enemy  ? 

6.  —  Why  did  not  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer  take  command 
after  Colonel  Rail  had  been  disabled,  as  it  was  his  duty  as  senior 
officer,  and  why  did  he  not  retreat  over  the  little  bridge  across 
the  stream  in  their  rear,  after  finding  the  enemy  so  strong? 

7.  —  From  whom  did  Colonel  Rail  receive  his  orders  ?  Did  he 
not  receive  proper  instructions  ?  Did  Colonel  Rail  visit  his  posts 
often  ?  Did  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer  give  no  orders  when 
Colonel  Rail  found  himself  unable  to  save  his  men  ? 

8.  —  Why  did  not  Colonel  von  Donop  march  to  their  assistance 
and  was  there  no  communication  existing  between  Bordentown 
and  Trenton  ? 

The  greatest  responsibility  after  the  death  of  Colonel  Rail  rests 
on  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer  and  after  him  on  the  two  officers 
who  commanded  the  von  Knyphausen  and  the  von  Woellworth  ^ 
regiments  and  these  officers  are  to  be  held  to  account  for  their 

No.  68.     Friedrich    L.   L  Hessen  to  General  Knyphausen. 

My  dear  Lieutenant  General  von  Knyphausen  : 

In  regard  to  the  report  of  that  fatal  affair  at  Trenton  I  would 
inform  you  that  the  importance  of  the  matter  has  not  permitted 
an  earlier  conclusion.  It  has  been  found  that  many  facts  need 
verification,  that  the  behaviour  of  every  one  implicated  should  be 
clearly  understood  so  that  the  conduct  of  each  one  should  be 
judged  properly  and  beyond  question.  I  would  respectfully  ask 
the  Lieutenant  General  to  convene  a  just  and  impartial  court 
according  to  the  rules,  that  this  unpleasant  afiair  may  end  and 
every  officer  implicated,  irrespective  of  previous  statements  and 
testimony,  be  resworn  in  so  important  a  matter.  A  Major  Gen- 
eral should  preside  and  there  must  be  three  officers  ordered  on 
the  court  of  each  rank.  You  may  order  such  courts-martial  to 
carefully  investigate  all  the  circumstances  of  this  affair  and  after 
due  consideration  pass  judgment  thereon.  If  any  are  found 
guilty  according  to  law  you  should  pass  sentence  on  each  one 
according  as  your  conscience  may  dictate  and  send  the  verdict 
to  me. 

In  the  investigation  it  is  shown  ; 

1  Formerly  the  Rail  regiment. 


1.  —  That  the  danger  to  which  the  regiments  in  Trenton  were 
daily  exposed  should  have  made  it  apparent  to  Colonel  Rail  that 
he  ought  to  have  designated  an  alarm  place  for  the  brigade,  that 
he  should  have  made  the  necessary  arrangements  for  defence, 
that  he  should  have  erected  fortifications  and  breast-works  and 
should  have  sent  out  frequent  patrols  to  those  places  where  the 
enemy  was  supposed  to  be,  especially  at  Pennington,  to  Howell's 
and  to  Johnson's  ferries.  As  the  whole  force  of  the  enemy 
crossed  over  the  Delaware  river  on  the  25*  of  December  1776 
,and  this  crossing  took  sixteen  hours  it  is  apparent  that  the  send- 
ing out  of  patrols  had  been  neglected.  If  it  had  been  done  the 
regiments  would  have  had  timely  warning  and  could  have  made 
preparations  for  resistance. 

2.  —  An  investigation  is  yet  to  be  made  by  the  court-martial 
as  to  what  orders  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer  gave  after  Colonel 
Rail  had  been  wounded  in  the  attack  on  the  town  which  he  made 
with  the  von  Lossberg  and  his  own  regiment  and  after  Major 
von  Hanstein  had  informed  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer  of  the 
wounding  of  Colonel  Rail  and  he  according  to  his  own  statement 
had  assumed  charge  of  the  command. 

3.  —  As  Major  von  Hanstein  states  that  after  the  fruitless 
attack  upon  the  town  and  during  the  retreat  to  the  woods  he. 
Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer  and  Major  Matthaus  had  all  agreed 
to  break  through  the  line  of  the  enemy,  a  thorough  investigation 
must  be  made  why  this  resolution  was  not  carried  out.  The  pro- 
tocol of  former  investigations  should  be  presented  to  this  court- 
martial  for  its  action. 

4.  —  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer  is  to  be  questioned  as  to  why 
in  the  retreat  not  the  least  effort  was  made  to  break  through  and 
join  the  English  troops  at  Princeton,  when  the  troops  had  not 
even  fired  and  by  his  own  testimony  an  officer  of  the  enemy 
was  called  out  and  made  by  him  to  understand  that  they  were 
forced  to  surrender.  Captain  Steding  said  in  his  testimony  that 
Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer  and  Major  von  Hanstein  joined  an 
officer  of  the  enemy  who  rode  up  to  them  at  the  time  of  the  re- 
treat and  on  their  return  both  of  the  regiments  surrendered.  We 
may  conclude  from  this  as  well  as  from  Lieutenant  Colonel  Schef- 
fer's  testimony  that  no  fire  was  opened  upon  the  enemy  in  front 
of  them.  Although  the  enemy  was  much  stronger  numerically, 
they  were  in  no  way  equal  to  the  brigade  of  Colonel  Rail  and  it 


cannot  be  denied  that  their  troops  were  much  scattered  and 
stronger  on  the  flanks  than  on  the  front  of  Trenton.  Therefore 
if  the  regiments  intended  to  break  through  and  were  in  order  for 
so  doing  it  ought  not  to  have  been  a  very  hard  task  for  these  regi- 
ments unitedly  at  some  one  point  to  have  effected  an  escape. 
The  militia  was  a  mixed  force,  much  dissatisfied  from  previous 
misfortunes  and  losses  and  they  would  not  have  stood  at  one 
certain  point  against  an  attack  with  the  bayonet.  By  this  honor- 
able way  a  disgraceful  surrender  and  capture  might  have  been 
avoided.  If  this  however  had  been  found  to  be  impossible  then 
the  regiments  should  have  tried  to  withdraw  toward  the  creek  and 
made  an  effort  to  cross  it.  The  testimony  of  Captain  von  Lowen- 
stein  shows  plainly  in  the  trial  that  two  hundred  steps  to  the  right 
of  the  position  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment,  and  so  accord- 
ing to  this  statement  behind  the  von  Lossberg  and  the  Rail  regi- 
ments also,  the  water  was  only  knee  deep. 

5.  —  The  regiment  von  Knyphausen  remained  too  long  at  the 
quarters  of  Major  von  Dechow  waiting  for  orders,  as  it  stood 
there  when  the  attack  and  the  firing  had  begun  at  the  upper  part 
of  the  town.  Because  Colonel  Rail  had  made  no  arrangements 
against  a  surprise  the  regiment  could  do  nothing  but  guard  the 
bridge  over  the  creek  at  Trenton  or  aid  the  other  two  regiments 
already  in  conflict  with  the  enemy.  The  signal  to  march  should 
have  been  the  cannon  shots  of  the  enemy. 

6.  —  An  investigation  should  be  made  earnestly  and  with  dili- 
gence as  to  the  cause  which  made  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment 
withdraw  when  in  the  apple  orchard  back  of  Trenton,  when  the 
Rail  and  the  von  Lossberg  regiments  were  about  to  make  the 
attack  on  the  town  and  why  did  they  turn  to  the  left  and  separate 
themselves  instead  of  assisting  those  regiments. 

7. — Who  gave  the  orders  for  this  separation?  Was  the  oc- 
cupation of  the  bridge  the  motive  for  this  movement  ?  If  so  why 
did  they  not  attack  the  enemy  there  with  the  bayonet  ?  Was  no 
attempt  made  to  do  this  ? 

8.  —  How  can  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  answer  these  questions  ? 
Why  did  his  regiment  not  attack  the  enemy  at  the  bridge  ?  Why 
did  his  regiment  march  up  and  down  the  creek  in  an  uncertain 
way  and  thereby  separate  itself  from  the  other  regiments  then  in 
action  ?  Why  did  he  intentionally  put  the  regiment  in  low 
ground  when  an  elevation  was  before  him  and  why  did  he  remain 


there  ?  Why  did  he  send  Lieutenant  Wiederhold  according  to 
his  own  statement  to  an  officer  in  advance  of  the  enemy  and  soon 
after  that  walked  up  himself  to  General  Lord  Stirling  an  Ameri- 
can General  and  there  capitulate,  and  then  returning  to  the  regi- 
ment surrendered  them  without  hesitation.  This  regiment  that 
would  have  accepted  every  chance,  for  it  had  lately  at  the  capture 
of  Fort  Knyphausen  fought  so  bravely  and  acted  so  well,  was 
surrendered  without  having  made  an  attack  and  scarcely  without 
having  fired  a  shot  ?  When  his  duty  urged  him  to  risk  an  escape 
by  crossing  the  creek  with  the  rest  of  his  men  where  a  part  of  his 
men  had  already  crossed  and  where  apparently  there  was  no  dan- 
ger of  drowning,  instead  of  doing  this  he  surrendered  in  a  shame- 
ful way.  Besides  these  questions  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  should 
be  also  asked  why  he  had  not  marched  to  the  place  already 
designated  by  Captain  von  Lowenstein  where  the  water  was 

9.  —  It  also  seems  that  the  Artillery  officer  Lieutenant  Engel- 
hardt  is  guilty  of  a  criminal  act  in  leaving  his  cannon  in  such 
haste  instead  of  remaining  with  his  command.  Even  if  he  did 
lose  a  few  artillerists  and  a  few  horses  he  certainly  hurried  over 
the  bridge  before  the  fate  of  his  command  had  been  decided. 
He  should  be  more  carefully  questioned  on  this  subject  than  has 
heretofore  been  done. 

As  soon  as  all  these  points  have  been  examined  into  as  we 
have  already  stated  the  Lieutenant  General  having  reconvened 
the  Court-Martial,  all  those  who  are  found  guilty  by  the  Court 
should  be  arrested  and  confined  until  my  action  in  the  matter 
shall  be  received  in  America.  The  kind  of  punishment  will  be 
indicated  in  the  summing  up  of  this  unpleasant  affair.  Because 
of  some  facts  worthy  of  consideration  in  the  case  of  those  officers 
now  serving  with  the  von  Trumbach  regiment  in  Georgia  and  who 
may  be  found  guilty,  their  arrest  will  be  deferred  until  my  action 
in  the  matter  is  made  known. 

Yours  affectionately 

Friedrich  L.  I.  Hessen. 
Weissenstein  23rd  of  April  1779 


No.  69.    Return  Casualties  Rall's  Brigade. 

New  York,  13th  of  December  1781. 
On  account  of  the  various  returns  from  different  sources,  and 
especially  from  the  statements  of  the  officers,  it  is  very  uncertain 
what  the  loss,  in  dead  and  wounded,  was  of  each  regiment  at  the 
affair  at  Trenton  and  the  strength  of  each  regiment  when  cap- 
tured. It  has  therefore  become  necessary  in  order  to  make  a 
correct  judgment  in  the  case  to  have  extracts  from  the  Commis- 
sary's office  upon  his  word  of  honor  of  the  dead,  wounded  and 
captured  at  the  surprise  at  Trenton.  This  is  to  be  taken  from 
the  total  lists  received  of  the  losses  of  the  Rail  brigade  at  Tren- 
ton in  1776.  And  with  this  information  every  effort  possible  has 
been  made  to  get  correct  accounts  of  the  losses  on  the  side  of  the 
enemy,  both  from  the  papers  here  or  the  rebel  papers  there,  that 
it  might  be  ascertained  what  was  the  strength  of  the  enemy  at 
the  surprise.  But  it  was  all  in  vain,  no  papers  could  be  found  to 
give  the  facts  accurately.  Your  obt.  servt 

J.    J.    LOTHEISEN. 

sent  under  word  of  honour  to  the  War  Commissioner  Lorentz, 
now  deceased,  examined  by  him  and  found  correct,  of  the  dead, 
wounded  and  prisoners  taken  at  the  surprise  at  Trenton  on  the 
26*  day  of  December  1776  of  the  regiments  Alt  von  Lossberg, 
von  Knyphausen  and  Rail. 


Dead  and  Missing. 



1   « 

!,.  i. 

'"  '.J 

=  S 






0  0 




















Von  Lossberg  . 








Von  Knyp- 














Total        .     . 









The  above  extract  of  the  return  I  have  examined  and  find  it 
correct.  I  therefore  according  to  my  duty  sign  it  with  my  own 

J.    J.    LOTHEISEN. 

New  York  13th  of  December  1781 

No.  70.    Proceedings  of  Hessian  Court-Martial. 
To  THE  Honorable  Court  Martial.  — 

It  is  known  to  the  honorable  Court  Martial  that  I  have  been 
for  some  time  forced  by  sickness  to  remain  in  my  quarters.  The 
trouble  which  I  have  in  my  legs  makes  it  impossible  for  me  to 
wear  shoes  and  I  cannot  therefore  go  out.  In  fact  I  am  too  weak 
to  engage  in  any  reading  of  the  extensive  testimony  or  to  be  pre- 
sent at  the  reading. 

I  hope  that  the  truthful  explanation  will  excuse  me  and  I  pray 
that  the  Honourable  Court  Martial  will  send  my  testimony  to 
my  quarters  to  be  read  to  me.  I  have  nothing  to  add  in  refer- 
ence to  the  surprise  at  Trenton  and  I  leave  it  to  the  action  of  the 
Court  Martial. 

Very  respectfully  your  obedient  servant 

New  York  4th  of  January  1782. 

New  York,  4th  of  January  17S2 
An  excuse  was  received  today  from  Lieutenant  Colonel  Schef- 
fer that  he  could  not  be  present  at  the  meeting  of  the  Court 
Martial  because  of  sickness  and  he  humbly  asked  to  have  a 
Committee  sent  to  his  quarters  to  read  to  him  the  statements 
which  had  been  made. 

The  Court  Martial  was  also  directed  by  His  Excellency  the 
Lieutenant  General  Knyphausen  to  order  to  be  present  at  their 
meeting  all  officers  who  had  been  in  the  command  of  the  three 
regiments  at  Trenton.  Also  to  request  Lieutenant  Hendorff  who 
has  since  then  been  discharged  to  be  present  but  to  leave  it  en- 
tirely to  his  honour  whether  he  will  respond  to  the  call  or  not. 

J.  J.  Lotheisen. 

New  York,  5th  of  January  1782 
The   following    Committee  was   sent   to  Lieutenant    Colonel 
Scheffer  of  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  and  to  Captain  Schimmel- 
pfennig  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  because  of  their  inabil- 


ity  to  be  present  at  the  meeting  of  the  Court  Martial,  viz :  Colo- 
nel von  Kochenhausen,  Lieutenant  Colonel  Eitel  and  Major 
Hessenmuller  to  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer,  and  Major  Pfaff, 
Captain  Wachs  and  myself  as  Auditor  to  Captain  Schimmel- 
pfennig.  The  minutes  and  the  testimony  was  read  to  both  of  the 
sick  officers  and  they  declared  they  had  no  changes  to  make,  that 
they  left  the  facts  just  as  they  were  stated  and  that  they  had  no 
objection  to  any  member  of  the  Court  Martial 

F.  VON  Kochenhausen  H.  H.  Eitel 

VON  Hessenmuller  Friedrich  Pfaff 

F.  Wachs.  J.  J.  Lotheisen. 

The  members  of  the  Court  were  : 

Major  General  Heinrich  Jul.  von  Kospoth,  formerly  Colonel  of 
the  von  Wutgenau  regiment,  President  of  the  court ;  Colonel 
Rudolph  von  Bunau  of  the  garrison  regiment  von  Bunau  ;  Colo- 
nel Friedrich  von  Kochenhausen  of  the  regiment  Hereditary 
Prince ;  Lieutenant  Colonel  Otto  Christian  Wilhelm  von  Linsin- 
gen  of  the  grenadier  battalion  von  Linsingen  ;  Lieutenant  Colo- 
nel Carl  von  Kietzell  of  the  regiment  von  Wissenbach  ;  Lieuten- 
ant Colonel  Georg  Emanuel  von  Lengercke,  of  the  grenadier 
battalion  von  Lengercke,  and  afterward  of  the  regiment  Prinz 
Carl ;  Lieutenant  Colonel  Hans  Heinrich  Eitel  of  the  Hessian 
Artillery ;  Major  Friedrich  Pfaff  of  the  regiment  Hereditary 
Prince  ;  Major  Friedrich  von  Eschwege  of  the  grenadier  bat- 
talion von  Lengercke ;  Major  Heinrich  Christian  von  Hessen- 
muller of  the  grenadier  battalion  Graff;  Captain  Heinrich  Fried- 
rich Wachs  of  the  regiment  Hereditary  Prince  ;  Captain  Georg 
Hohenstein  of  the  grenadier  battalion  Graff  ;  Captain  Ludwig 
Eberhard  Murarius  of  the  regiment  Landgrave  ;  Lieutenant  Carl 
von  Rabenau  of  the  grenadier  battalion  Lowenstein  ;  Lieutenant 
Reinhard  Yunck  formerly  of  the  garrison  regiment  von  Seitz  now 
of  the  grenadier  battalion  Graff ;  Lieutenant  Max  Ludwig  von 
Helmold  of  the  grenadier  battalion  von  Linsingen  and  afterward 
the  regiment  du  Corps  ;  Ensign  Heinrich  Georg  de  Nolde  of  the 
regiment  Landgrave  ;  Ensign  August  von  Pappenheim  of  the 
regiment  Landgrave  ;  Ensign  Friedrich  Wilhelm  Kuester  of 
the  garrison  regiment  von  Bunau. 

Johann  Jacob  Lotheisen  was  Auditor. 


An  extract  from  the  minutes  of  the  Court  shows  who  were 
ordered  before  it  to  give  their  testimony  or  to  confirm  that 
already  given. 

New  York,  5th  of  January  1782 
Court  Martial. 
Major  General  von  Kospoth,  presiding. 

The  following  officers  of  the  regiments  von  Lossberg,  von 
Knyphausen  and  Rail  heard  the  reading  of  the  minutes  and  the 
testimony  and  offered  no  objections  :  — 

1.  —  Lieutenant  Zoll 

—  Lieutenant  von  Hobe  (formerly  Ensign) 

—  Lieutenant  Hille  —  all  of  the  regiment  von  Lossberg. 

—  Captain  von  Biesenrodt 

—  Captain  Baum 

—  Captain  Wiederhold  (formerly  Lieutenant) 

—  Captain  Vaupell  (formerly  Lieutenant) 

—  Lieutenant  Sobbe 

—  Lieutenant  von  Drach  (formerly  Ensign) 

—  Lieutenant  von  Romrodt 

—  Lieutenant  Zimmermann   (formerly   Ensign)  —  all  of   the 
regiment  von  Knyphausen. 

2.  —  Major  Boking  (formerly  Captain) 

13.  —  Captain  Salzmann  (formerly  Lieutenant)  —  all  of  the  regi- 

ment Rail 

14.  —  Corporal  Frank  Georg  Bauer  of  the  Yagers 

No.  71.    Finding  of  Hessian  Court- Martial. 

The  President  and  the  members  of  the  Court  were  then 
sworn  :  — 

They  gave  their  decision  according  to  their  respective  rank 
after  they  had  been  cautioned  to  keep  the  same  secret :  — 

The  Ensigns.  They  agree  that  the  disaster  at  Trenton  was 
due  to  the  neglect  of  Colonel  Rail  in  not  making  the  necessary 
preparations  in  case  of  retreat.  Also  that  he  was  to  blame  for 
attacking  the  town  instead  of  retreating,  thereby  causing  the  con- 
fusion in  the  Rail  and  von  Lossberg  regiments.  They  think  that 
Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer  in  the  situation  in  which  he  was 
when  he  took  command  of  the  regiments,  against  a  superior  force, 
would  have  found  it  impossible  to  have  effected  a  retreat ;  that 





he  and  all  his  officers  did  all  in  their  power  to  encourage  their 
men  and  preserve  order  and  that  the  testimony  shows  no  censure 
should  be  placed  on  them.  In  the  matter  of  the  pickets  there 
could  be  nothing  said  against  them  as  they  were  too  weak  in 
number  to  resist  so  strong  an  enemy  and  they  were  not  guilty 
of  making  a  premature  retreat.  Lieutenant  Fischer  according 
to  the  testimony  remained  with  the  von  Lossberg  regiment  and 
Lieutenant  Engelhardt  could  not  save  the  cannon  of  the  Rail 
regiment;  therefore  the  Ensigns  judge  that  no  blame  can  be 
attached  to  the  Artillery  detachment  of  the  brigade.  The  min- 
utes show  in  the  case  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  that  the 
command  marched  into  the  low  ground  on  a  positive  order ; 
therefore  the  regiment  could  not  be  held  responsible  for  it.  They 
also  think  that  it  was  impossible  for  Captain  von  Biesenrodt, 
who  took  command  when  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  already 
stood  in  the  low  ground,  to  force  the  bridge  with  his  small  regi- 
ment, and  there  was  no  way  for  him  to  make  them  cross  the 
creek,  and  that  he  had  taken  the  necessary  steps  in  this  matter, 
first  to  have  the  creek  sounded,  second  to  place  an  officer  and 
forty  men  to  protect  the  ford,  and  third  to  assume  charge  himself 
of  the  rear  guard.  Captain  von  Loewenstein  had  rtot  then  shown 
him  where  the  water  was  only  knee-deep  and  therefore  no  lack  of 
resolution  or  want  of  bravery  can  be  charged  to  him.  That  he 
finally  surrendered  himself  and  his  men  he  could  not  be  censured 
for,  because  first  the  other  regiments  were  already  captured,  sec- 
ond the  situation  of  the  von  Knyphausen  regiment  was  already 
known  to  the  enemy  from  Major  von  Dechow's  movements,  and 
third  the  enemy  put  its  whole  force  now  against  the  regiment 
von  Knyphausen,  and  this  regiment  could  not  successfully  resist 
after  having  the  cannon  stuck  in  the  swamp  and  only  numbering 
then  but  276  men.  We  also  find  that  Captain  Schimmelpfennig, 
Lieutenant  now  Captain  Baum,  Lieutenant  now  Captain  Vaupell 
and  Lieutenant  von  Geyso  did  not  go  through  the  creek  until  the 
whole  regiment  had  orders  from  Captain  von  Biesenrodt,  and  took 
the  men  across  according  to  the  statement  already  made.  So  the 
Ensigns  believe  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  as  well  as  the  officers, 
the  non-commissioned  officers  and  the  privates  of  the  von  Knyp- 
hausen regiment  are  free  from  blame  and  ought  to  be  acquitted. 

H.  G.  D.  NoLDE 
A.  VON  Pappenheim 



The  Lieutenants.  The  Lieutenants  agree  in  tlie  decision  of  the 
Ensigns  in  every  particular,  and  for  the  same  reasons  tliey  recom- 
mend that  the  three  regiments  von  Lossberg,  von  Knyphausen 
and  Rail  be  acquitted. 

C.  VON  Rabenau 

R.    YUNCK 

M.  L.  VON  Helmold. 

The  Captains.  The  Captains  believe,  according  to  the  facts 
set  forth,  that  no  faint-heartedness,  premature  retreat  or  any  act 
of  insubordination  can  be  charged  against  the  three  regiments 
von  Lossberg,  von  Knyphausen  and  Rail  at  the  surprise  at  Tren- 
ton. The  commanding  officers  as  well  as  the  other  officers,  the 
several  commands,  the  pickets,  as  well  as  Sergeant  Mueller  who 
had  command  at  the  bridge,  and  the  detachment  of  artillery,  all 
did  their  duty  and  ought  to  be  acquitted.  All  the  men  who  were 
in  service  at  the  surprise  at  Trenton  we  include  in  this  opinion 
and  we  desire  it  published  in  the  newspapers  here  as  well  as  at 
Cassel.  That  his  Serene  Highness  of  Hesse  may  grant  the  regi- 
ments above  named  new  flags  we  desire  to  state  these  facts  in 
addition  to  what  has  already  been  said  : 

1.  —  That  Captain  von  Lowenstein,  if  he  were  yet  alive,  would 
have  the  greatest  necessity  for  explaining  why  he  apparently 
deceived  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  in  that  he  did  not  show  him 
the  place  where  the  creek  could  be  crossed  after  Major  von 
Dechow  was  wounded. 

2.  —  It  would  appear  that  Captain  Schimmelpfennig,  Lieu- 
tenant Baum,  Lieutenant  Vaupell  and  Lieutenant  von  Geyso  after 
crossing  the  creek  should  have  halted  on  the  bank  and  collected 
their  men.  But  owing  to  the  general  confusion  and  especially 
the  fact  that  von  Geyso  was  wounded,  they  ought  to  be  excused. 

3.  —  It  was  perfectly  right  that  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  should 
form^the  rear  guard  and  that  he  should  take  command  of  it  and 
offer  to  be  the  last  man  to  cross. 

4.  —  After  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  had  given  the  order  to  cross 
the  creek  it  was  his  duty  to  give  special  orders  to  his  subaltern 
officers  that  they  should  cross  and  to  see  that  the  orders  were 
carried  out  in  the  proper  manner. 

5.  —  It  is  known  to  us,  especially  to  Captain  Wachs  and  Cap- 
tain Hohenstein  by  personal  knowledge  that  Captain  von  Biesen- 
rodt is  a  brave  man.     He  has  proven  this  so  often  in  the  face  of 


the  enemy,  and  according  to  the  opinion  of  others  he  did  his  duty 
at  the  surprise  at  Trenton,  so  that  we  are  convinced  that  he  had 
not  then  lost  his  usual  courage. 

H.  Wachs 


The  Majors.  The  examination  shows  nothing  more  to  us  than 
that  Colonel  Rail  neglected  to  take  the  necessary  precautions 
which  it  was  his  duty  to  do  for  the  regiments  he  commanded  and 
he  left  his  officers  without  any  orders  in  case  of  attack.  Colonel 
Rail  died  without  an  examination  which  would  probably  have 
cleared  up  many  things.  We  are  therefore  of  the  opinion  that 
neither  faint-heartedness,  premature  flight  or  insubordination  is 
to  be  charged  against  the  men  at  the  surprise  at  Trenton  and  that 
their  commander  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer,  Major  Matthaus 
and  the  other  officers  of  the  regiments  von  Lossberg  and  Rail, 
also  the  pickets  and  guards  as  well  as  Sergeant  Mueller  who  had 
the  watch  at  the  bridge,  and  the  detachment  of  artillery  have  all 
done  their  duty  and  we  recommend  them  for  acquittal.  We  think 
that  all  the  officers  still  living,  who  served  at  the  surprise  at  Tren- 
ton, should  be  fully  exonerated  from  blame  a'nd  that  this. should 
be  published  in  the  newspapers  here  and  at  Cassel.  As  far  as 
the  regiment  von  Knyphausen  is  concerned  we  believe  that  they 
obeyed  strictly  the  orders  of  their  commanding  officer  Major  von 
Dechow  and  after  he  retired  wounded  and  Captain  von  Biesen- 
rodt  had  taken  command  of  the  regiment  they  had  already  been 
placed  in  a  bad  position  in  low  ground  near  the  enemy.  In 
this  condition  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  did  all  that  could  be  done 
under  the  circumstances.  He  gave  orders  for  the  regiment  to 
retire  through  the  creek,  ordered  the  rear  guard  of  forty  men  and 
took  charge  of  it  himself.  The  enemy  pressed  so  violently  and 
closed  up  on  the  regiment  that  no  blame  can  be  put  on  Captain 
von  Biesenrodt  and  the  rest  of  the  officers  of  the  von  Knyphausen 
regiment.  In  order  not  to  sacrifice  the  men  uselessly  they  were 
compelled  to  surrender.  It  is  to  be  hoped  that  His  Highness 
the  Count  of  Hesse  will  grant  new  flags  to  these  three  regiments, 
keep  them  in  service  and  retain  his  good  will  toward  them. 

Friedrich  Pfaff 
Friedrich  von  Eschwege 
H.  Hessenmuller. 


The  Lieutenant  Colonels.  We  observe  from  the  testimony  that 
the  surprise  at  Trenton  was  carried  out  with  great  force  and 
determination  by  the  enemy.  This  fact  must  be  taken  into  con- 
sideration in  rendering  a  decision.  According  to  our  opinion  all 
the  pickets  and  guards  did  their  duty  and  did  not  leave  their 
posts  without  proper  defence  and  they  then  only  retreated  under 
continual  fire,  some  of  them  to  their  regiments  and  some  to  Bor- 
dentown  in  order  not  to  be  captured.  The  Yager  company  can- 
not be  blamed  because  they  had  no  bayonets  and  they  all  fol- 
lowed their  commander  Lieutenant  von  Grothausen  now  deceased, 
but  how  much  he  was  blameworthy  cannot  now  be  decided  be- 
cause he  cannot  be  examined,  for  he  died  of  his  wounds.  The 
detachment  of  artillery  did  their  duty  and  defended  themselves 
as  long  as  it  was  possible  to  do  it.  Artillery  Lieutenant  Engel- 
hardt  did  wrong  by  not  joining  the  von  Lossberg  and  Rail  regi- 
ments after  he  had  lost  his  cannon,  but  as  it  is  known  to  us  that 
he  has  both  before  and  since  the  surprise  of  Trenton  conducted 
himself  very  bravely,  and  being  a  young  officer  and  having  testi- 
fied on  a  former  examination  at  Charleston  that  he  was  already 
cut  off,  he  should  be  acquitted.  After  a  due  consideration  of  all 
the  different  perplexing  situations  in  which  Lieutenant  Colonel 
Scheffer  was  placed  after  the  wounding  of  Colonel  Rail,  we  can 
neither  find  a  want  of  courage  or  irresolution  on  his  part,  but 
rather  great  bravery  because  :  — 

I'.  —  He  formed  his  regiment  in  a  large  open  ground  under  the 
direct  fire  of  the  enemy. 

2.  —  While  marching  to  attack  the  enemy,  he  obeyed  according 
to  his  rank  the  order  of  Colonel  Rail  and  began  an  attack  on 
the  enemy  then  in  his  rear  in  the  town,  and  after  the  regiments 
had  been  beaten  and  Colonel  Rail  had  been  wounded  he  took 

3.  —  After  agreeing  with  Majors  von  Hanstein  and  Matthaus 
to  break  through  the  woods  he  did  march  against  the  enemy  a 
certain  distance  but  he  was  compelled  to  stop,  because  his  regi- 
ments were  not  in  order  after  leaving  the  town  and  because  he 
found  himself  surrounded  on  all  sides  by  the  enemy.  The  regi- 
ments which  can  form  in  a  great  surprise  and  under  fire  of  the 
enemy  like  the  von  Lossberg  and  Rail  regiments  and  by  an  order' 
of  their  commander  attack  the  foe  and  defend  themselves  a  con- 
siderable time,  which  the  loss  of  the  von  Lossberg  sufficiently 


shows,  cannot  be  judged  otherwise  than  that  the  officers,  non- 
commissioned officers  and  privates  fully  did  their  duty.  Captain 
von  Biesenrodt  showed  no  lack  of  determination  or  courage  in 
the  situation  when  he  took  command  of  the  von  Knyphausen 

1.  —  He  received  the  command  of  the  regiment  when  it  was 
posted  in  a  bad  position,  a  low  swamp,  and  their  cannon  were 
already  stuck  in  the  marsh. 

2.  —  It  was  utterly  impossible  for  a  weak  regiment,  in  much 
confusion  and  without  cannon,  to  break  through  the  enemy  which 
had  already  placed  a  guard  on  all  the  high  positions  on  the  shore 
and  at  the  bridge,  and  the  bridge  could  not  be  forced. 

3.  —  He  had  fully  considered  the  crossing  of  the  creek  as  the 
only  way  to  save  the  regiment  and  had  its  depth  sounded  before 
giving  orders  to  cross  the  same. 

4.  —  The  crossing  took  considerable  time  on  account  of  the 
steep  shore  on  the  other  side,  and  it  was  a  good  move  to  order 
Lieutenant  von  Ferry  with  forty  men  to  watch  the  enemy  posted 
opposite  on  the  heights. 

S-  — We  think  that  as  a  brave  officer  he  did  not  want  to  be  the 
first  to  go  through  the  water  but  was  determined  to  go  with  the 
rear  guard  and  is  not  censurable  but  rather  praiseworthy  for  this 
act,  although  Captain  Schimmelpfennig  found  fault  with  this 

6.  —  The  capitulation  was  not  wrong  because  the  crossing  of 
the  creek  was  impossible  with  the  cannon  and  the  howitzers  of 
the  enemy  posted  on  the  heights. 

7-  — It  is  to  be  supposed  that  Captain  von  Biesenrodt's  plan 
would  have  worked  well  were  it  not  that  Major  -s^on  Dechow  had 
gone  toward  the  enemy  previous  to  this  and  revealed  the  situa- 
tion of  the  regiment  by  having  a  white  pocket  handkerchief  tied 
to  a  staff.  This  fact  worked  greatly,  toward  the  discouragement 
of  the  men. 

We  are  therefore  in  favour  of  acquitting  the  three  regiments 
von  Lossberg,  von  Knyphausen  and  Rail,  now  Angelelli,  and  the 
detachment  of  Artillery,  all  the  guards  and  the  pickets.  The 
names  of  the  surviving  officers  should  be  mentioned  and  the  sen- 
tence when  confirmed  by  His  Highness  should  justify  the  con- 
duct of  these  men  and  it  should  be  published  in  the  newspapers 
here  and  at  Cassel. 


We  humbly  leave  all  this  to  the  mercy  of  his  Serene  Highness, 
that  he  may  acquit  the  three  regiments  and  grant  them  new  flags. 


G.  E.  VON  Lengerke 

H.    H.    ElTEL. 

The  Colonels.  It  seems  to  us  according  to  the  testimony  read 
to  us  that  much  is  due  to  the  bad  conduct  of  Colonel  Rail  the 
commander  at  Trenton  at  the  time  of  the  surprise. 

I. — That  he  had  not  used  prudence  enough  to  put  up  some 
fortifications  which  had  been  suggested  by  Colonel  von  Donop 
and  the  plans  prepared  by  Captain  Pauli. 

2.  —  Engineer  Captain  Martin  was  sent  to  Colonel  Rail  shortly 
before  the  surprise  by  Colonel  von  Donop  to  see  Colonel  Rail 
about  the  construction  of  a  redoubt  and  he  had  disdainfully  re- 
jected the  idea  with  the  expression  that  the  rebels  were  a  miserable 
band  and  fortifications  against  such  a  party  were  unnecessary. 

3.  —  Colonel  Rail  entirely  omitted  to  designate  alarm  places 
for  the  brigade. 

4.  —  When  Major  von  Dechow  made  the  proposition  the  day 
before  the  attack  to  send  away  the  baggage  as  it  was  only  an 
incumbrance  in  case  of  an  attack  Colonel  Rail  replied  ridiculing 
and  belittling  the  suggestion.  Colonel  Rail  having  been  mor- 
tally wounded  and  died  of  the  wounds  received  at  the  attack  on 
Trenton  he  cannot  be  held  to  answer  these  charges,  and  a  deci- 
sion cannot  be  justly  rendered  against  him.  But  no  blame  for 
want  of  courage,  or  because  of  an  unnecessary  retreat  can  be 
placed  on  the  von  Lossberg,  von  Knyphausen  and  Rail  regiments 
at  the  affair  at  Trenton. 

The  uncertainty  as  to  why  the  regiment  von  Knyphausen 
remained  so  long  at  the  place  of  rendezvous  cannot  be  cleared 
up  because  of  the  death  of  Major  von  Dechow,  but  it  is  probable 
that  he,  as  no  alarm  place  had  been  designated  by  Colonel  Rail, 
waited  there  for  orders  where  to  march  his  regiment.  Captain 
von  Biesenrodt  cannot  be  blamed  for  finding  the  regiment  in  a 
bad  position  and  in  disorder  for  it  is  well  understood  how  diffi- 
cult it  is  to  bring  out  order  where  once  there  has  been  confusion. 
The  testimony  shows  further  that  Captain  von  Biesenrodt  had 
ordered  the  crossing  of  the  creek  with  all  the  care  available  but 
the  strong  opposing  forces  and  the  superiority  of  artillery  made 


the  crossing  impossible.  The  detached  commands  and  the  pick- 
ets, the  guards  at  the  bridge  under  Sergeant  Mueller,  and  the 
detachment  of  artillery  did  their  whole  duty  and  should  be 
acquitted.  We  also  think  that  every  surviving  officer  of  the  Rail 
brigade  in  the  affair  at  Trenton  should  be  acquitted  and  their 
names  together  with  this  verdict  should  be  published  in  public 
orders  and  in  the  newspapers  of  the  country.  In  reference  to 
the  lost  flags  of  those  three  regiments  we  would  humbly  ask  and 
pray  that  new  flags  be  granted  them. 

R.    VON    BUNAU 

H.  W.  VON    KiLZEL 


The  President  and  the  Auditor.  We  agree  with  the  opinion  of 
the  Lieutenant  Colonels  for  the  reasons  given  and  we  would  also 
state  that  no  blame  should  be  attached  to  Captain  Schimmelpfen- 
nig  and  the  Lieutenants  Baum,  Vaupell  and  von  Geyso  because 
they  crossed  the  creek  before  they  were  ordered  by  Captain  von 
Biesenrodt  who  also  ordered  the  whole  von  Knyphausen  regi- 
ment to  cross.  Captain  Schiramelpfennig  states  in  his  testi- 
mony that  he  reassembled  about  fifty  men  and  retreated  with 
them  to  Princeton.  As  the  regiments  have  all  been  acquitted 
but  are  serving  without  flags  according  to  the  Articles  of  War 
this  matter  must  be  referred  to  and  we  would  humbly  submit  to 
his  Serene  Highness  to  mercifully  grant  new  flags  to  the  Alt  von 
Lossljerg,  the  von  Knyphausen  and  the  Rail,  now  the  d'Ange- 
lelli,  regiments. 


Verdict.  On  the  surprise  at  Trenton  of  the  regiments  von 
Lossberg,  von  Knyphausen  and  Rail,  now  d'Angelelli,  and  their 

The  Court  Martial  resolves  after  thoroughly  examining  all  the 
testimony  and  all  the  facts  that  by  a  unanimous  vote  they  judge 
that  the  regiments  von  Lossberg,  von  Knyphausen  and  Rail, 
now  d'Angelelli,  cannot  be  blamed  for  any  want  of  courage,  pre- 
mature retreat  or  insubordination  at  the  surprise  at  Trenton,  and 
they  believe  that  the  commanders  of  the  regiments,  the  other  offi- 
cers, the  regiments  themselves,  the  guards  and  pickets,  the  watch 


at  the  bridge  under  Sergeant  Mueller  and  the  detachment  of 
artillery  all  did  their  duty. 

The  following  is  a  list  of  the  living  officers  as  far  as  known  :  — 

Regiment  von  Lossberg.  i.  Lieutenant  Colonel  Scheffer ;  2. 
Major  von  Hanstein  ;  3.  Captain  now  Major  von  Altenbockum  ; 
4.  Captain  Steding ;  5.  Lieutenant  now  Captain  Piel ;  6.  Lieu- 
tenant Zoll ;  7.  Lieutenant  von  Hobe ;  8.  Lieutenant  Miiller  ; 
9.  Lieutenant  Schwabe  ;  10.  Lieutenant  Hille  ;  11.  Lieutenant 
Hendorff ;  12.  Lieutenant  Grabe  ;  13.  Ensign  von  Zengen  and 
14.   Bombardier  Volprecht. 

Regiment  von  Knyphausen.  i.  Captain  von  Biesenrodt ;  2. 
Captain  Schimmelpfennig ;  3.  Lieutenant  now  Captain  Baum  ; 
4.  Lieutenant  now  Captain  Wiederhold  ;  5.  Lieutenant  now  Cap- 
tain Vaupell  ;  6.  Lieutenant  von  Romrodt ;  7.  Lieutenant  von 
Sobbe  ;  8.  Lieutenant  von  Ferry ;  9.  Lieutenant  von  Geyso  ;  10. 
Ensign  now  Lieutenant  von  Dracli ;  11.  Ensign  now  Lieutenant 
Zimmermann  ;   12.  Sergeant  Mueller. 

Regiment  Rail,  now  d' Atigelelli.  i.  Captain  now  Major  Bo- 
king  ;  2.  Lieutenant  now  Captain  Salzmann ;  3.  Ensign  Fleck  ; 
4.  Artillery  Lieutenant  Engelhardt. 

Yager  Corps.  Corporal  Frank  Georg  Bauer. 
We  desire  to  acquit  all  these  officers  and  if  the  verdict  is  con- 
firmed we  wish  to  have  it  announced  in  public  orders  and  pub- 
lished in  the  newspapers  here  and  in  Cassel  for  the  justification 
of  the  regiments.  We  also  humbly  pray  that  his  Highness  will 
grant  these  regiments  new  flags. 

New  York,  January  nth  1782 



No.  72.     Report  of  Hessian  War  Commission. 


Most  gracious  Prince  and  Lord : 

The  War  Commission  humbly  ask  for  a  full  pardon  in  the 
case  of  the  survivirig  officers  at  the  surprise  at  Trenton.  We 
•  agree  with  the  court  that  the  sentence  should  be  published  in 
the  gazettes  and  that  permission  be  granted  to  carry  new  colors. 
The  Commission  would  also  point  out  the  notable  defects  in  the 
lines  of  testimony  and  they  would  refer  to  the  premature  publica-